Offshore energy strategic environmental assessment seascape background studies 

Over recent years we have explored the likely limits of significant visual effects on seascape from offshore wind development in English and Welsh waters for the UK government. These seascape and visual buffer studies have informed  two Strategic Environmental Assessments (OESEA, OESEA 3) and now a standalone report has been published in April 2020 (2019/2020 update). These provide strategic guidance to developers and regulators and are likely to be taken into consideration in proposals in the Round 4 bidding areas.

In order to establish potential buffers to limit significant effects we have considered a variety of sources of information in the context of the latest UK policies, guidance and baseline seascape information. Most importantly this includes the most comprehensive analysis of visual effects from offshore wind farms SVIAs and PEIRs available. To consider future scenarios we consider the potential effects of larger wind turbine sizes upto 400m to tip through preparation of wireline scenarios and assessment.

The studies explore the influence of marine visibility modifiers e.g. haze and other weather conditions which become increasingly relevant at greater distances. We consider the influence of lighting on potential effects, review other nations’ approaches to buffers/siting wind farms offshore, evaluate cumulative effects of existing and proposed developments and verify some SVIAs through site visits to assess implemented offshore wind farms.

Client: Hartley Anderson, DECC/BEIS