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SNH Report Will Help Marine Planning

Environment Politics +1 more

SCOTLAND, UK - Marine energy developers, regulators and advisers are set to benefit from a new report, commissioned by the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and funded by Marine Scotland (MS), which presents the findings of a series of research projects carried out in Scottish waters.

The report, “An assessment of the conservation importance of species and habitats identified during a series of recent research cruises around Scotland", will help balance marine energy development and nature conservation.

SNH said that as well as the renewable energy sector, it will also help inform marine planning and licensing decisions, and the creation of Marine Protected Areas.

The study analysed imagery and data from surveys carried out at 15 locations. It identified 14 species and 17 habitats of conservation interest. Seven of the species and seven of the habitats have the added status of Priority Marine Feature'.

The report assesses the implications of renewable energy developments on some of the conservation features. This will help steer environmental impact assessment of proposed marine energy developments.

Susan Davies, SNH director of policy and advice, said the report should prove very useful to anyone with an interest in the marine renewable energy sector.

"The waters around Scotland have huge potential for marine renewable energy development. They are also internationally important for their many features of nature conservation interests,” Ms Davies added.

"Our role is to help the marine energy sector to develop sustainably. We do this by providing advice and information on important marine features so these can be taken into account during development planning. The evidence in this report will be a great asset in that process."

Marine Scotland's Head of Science, Professor Colin Moffat added: "As a maritime nation Scotland is greatly influenced by the sea in terms of our climate and the habitat and species that exist in our waters. Understanding these issues through sound science is fundamental to the sustainable use of the sea. I especially welcome the ready availability of the imagery used in this assessment through Marine Scotland Interactive, which clearly illustrates the range of plants and animals that thrive throughout our coasts".