Argyll Array Project Update #33 – August 2012

Scottish Power Renewables logoPublic Information Day (PID)

This year’s Public Information Day (PID) for the project will be held on Thursday 4th October between 2.00pm and 7.00pm. The venue has still to be finally confirmed. The format will be the same as at the last PID; members of the public are invited to drop in anytime during the day to view a number of information and consultation displays. There will be a chance to discuss these and any other aspects of the project with the project team and a number of other specialist staff from SPR.

There will also be a number of ways of making comment. There have been some significant changes to aspects of the project since the last PID 14 months ago. This PID will explain the effects of these changes and also consult people on how the project should develop further in the future.

There will be further information about the day, including confirmation of the venue, in my next update.

The Environmental Statement (ES)

· What is the Environmental Statement?

It’s the document used to convey the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the regulator, Marine Scotland, and all others interested in the application. It provides a description of the project (its construction, its operations/ maintenance and its eventual decommissioning). It also describes the environmental impacts the project could have, the ways significant impacts can be reduced or avoided and the research data used as evidence. It is a legal document forming part of the planning application in 2014.

· What’s the Environmental Impact Assessment?

This is the first step towards the Environmental Statement and, as the name suggests, the EIA assesses the environmental impact of the project. The immediate objectives of the EIA are to improve the project’s environmental design, check its environmental acceptability and identify ways to reduce any impacts. The main long term objective is to avoid serious damage to the environment.

It works by identifying any changes needed to the project and then assessing those changes in turn, in order to refine the project design and reduce environmental impacts as much as possible. Most of the Environmental Impact Assessment work will be done in 2013 but work has already started on possible effects on basking sharks and bird life at the site.

· How complicated is the Environmental Statement?

As Marine Scotland and others interested require more and more detail, the ES gets quite large and technical. For this reason a Non Technical Summary (NTS) is produced which may, for example, summarise a 400 page ES in 20 pages.

To keep the ES itself to a manageable size and readable by the layperson, it will refer to Technical Appendixes which are very detailed reports on individual topics. All are usually public documents when planning is applied for.

· Who writes the ES?

It will be produced for SPR by professional, independent environmental consultants, who will in turn employ specialist sub-contractors.

· How can we be sure the ES is accurate and impartial?

Windfarm Environmental Statements are rigorously evaluated by regulators and also non government agencies and the general public. The issues can also end up being discussed at formal planning inquiries so developers must ensure evaluations are accurate. An inaccurate Environmental Statement would invite serious problems for the developer at the decision making stage. Incorrect decisions made by regulators based on an inaccurate Environmental Statement also invite problems for them.

· When will Tiree see the ES?

The final ES is submitted as part of the planning application. However, an early draft will be available in the form of a preliminary environmental report at least 3 months before a planning application to Marine Scotland. This is currently planned to be in mid-2014, as part of the pre-application consultation on the project. (More about pre-application consultation in a future update.)

· What aspects of the environment will the ES report on?

This is what makes it such an important document. This will be dealt with in my next update.

Future updates

  • Detail of what aspects of the environment the Environmental Statement will report on.
  • What’s a pre?application consultation?
  •  What’s a decommissioning plan?

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact me at – Donnie Campbell, ScottishPower Renewables Community Liaison Officer, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. My land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie@argyllarray.com

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