Towards best environmental practice for cetacean conservation in developing Scotland's marine renewable energy
Marine renewable energy is seen as an important component of the UK's future energy strategy and contribution to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. The UK aims to generate a total of 33 GW (gigawatts) of offshore wind energy. Its implementation strategy includes the development of ten offshore wind farms within Scottish territorial waters. In addition, between 1000 MW (megawatts) and 2600 MW of marine renewable energy generating capacity could be achieved in Scotland using wave and tidal power devices. However, there are negative environmental impacts associated with marine renewable energy. Intense noise is produced during pile driving, drilling and dredging operations with potential consequences for cetaceans. There are also increases in vessel activities during exploration, maintenance and construction with association risks of disturbance and collisions. Some underwater devices will be large and may be positioned in arrays across the habitats that cetaceans frequent. The consequences of encounters between cetaceans and such devices are as yet unknown. It is recommended that the Scottish Government complete full and transparent Marine Spatial Planning, including consideration of cumulative impacts, before moving to license appropriate sites.
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