As part of preparing the Environmental Statement, the developer will need to collate and gather the required data to support their application and an assessment of the likely impact on sensitive receptors, in accordance with the Scoping Opinion.
A typical marine ES would include information on:
- Physical processes (wave/tide/sediment regime)
- Geology and water quality
- Marine and intertidal ecology
- Marine mammals
- Marine nature conservation (HRA)
- Fish ecology
- Commercial fisheries
- Shipping and navigation
- Other marine users
- Marine archaeology
- Landscape and visual assessment
- Onshore ecology/planning
It is likely that in the Scoping opinion, NRW would request the inclusion of the information detailed above. To inform the ES, the developer must begin the process of gathering and collating relevant data. In the case of some receptors, information may already be available, so the developer may just need to collate existing data and present in the context of their own impact assessment. For other receptors, the required data may not be available and so the developer may need to commission additional surveys or research to inform their EIA. Consultation with NRW should provide clarity on when existing data will suffice and when there is a requirement for additional survey, monitoring or research.
The requirement for developers to undertake surveys and data gathering prior to consent application is predominantly driven by a lack of detailed evidence about the environmental receptors associated with proposed development sites. The data which developers gather enable consent decisions to be based on a robust evidence base and compliant with the requirements of environmental legislation.
The amount of additional data required and the time period over which surveys may need to be conducted will be influenced by the likely level of risk of impacts to sensitive receptors. Please note that NRW/MMO often request up to 2 years of survey data, to allow for annual variation to be characterised. If the risk to sensitive receptors is considered to be lower, however, less than 2 years’ data collection may be adequate to inform the application and EIA. The lower the likely degree of risk, the lesser the corresponding requirement for the developer to gather additional data to inform the consent application. Higher risk projects will always require a significant amount of data gathering and detailed assessment but lesser requirements might be acceptable for lower risk projects. Decisions about the need for additional survey and data gathering should be made in discussion with NRW MLT.