There are currently 10 renewable energy projects in Scottish waters:
- MORL West – Applying for licence in 2018
- Kincardine – Licenced, 2018 / 2019 expected construction
- Forthwind Offshore – Licenced, 2019 expected construction
- Inch Cape Offshore – Licenced, 2019 / 2020 expected construction
- SeaGreen – Licenced, 2019 / 2020 expected construction
- MORL East – Licenced, 2019 / 2020 expected construction
- Neart na Gaoithe – Licenced, 2020 / 2021 expected construction
- Beatrice – Licenced, under construction
- Aberdeen Offshore – Fully commissioned
- Hywind – Fully commissioned
Only one of the above projects doesn’t affect commercial fisheries in any way. All the other projects are located on fishing grounds. As (marine) animals are bound to their habitats, fishing someplace else is often not possible.
There are no examples (yet) of a successful coexistence between (mobile) commercial fishermen and offshore wind energy parks. In many countries (e.g. the Netherlands, Belgium) fishermen are not allowed to fish inside a windfarm; in Scotland fishing inside a farm is not prohibited, but fishermen often do not access the area due to navigational difficulties and potential dangers.
There are many unknowns regarding wind energy in the ocean. What effects do these “artificial reefs” have? What effects does the electromagnetic field have? And the noise? Some populations are known to increase, but other species disappear from the area completely.
Even though these questions remain unanswered and long-term effects are not known either, in June 2018 the Scottish Government published a document (Areas_of_Search) with new areas designated for wind farms. From a fisheries perspective, this is very worrying, will all fishing grounds be used as renewable energy parks?