The NAFC Marine Centre said yesterday it had mapped waters around Shetland to identify the best sites for wave and tidal projects and cable landing points on the shoreline.
The maps are designed to help developers and public sector bodies provide a consistent and streamlined approach to marine energy planning applications.
Funded by Marine Scotland and the NAFC Marine Centre, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, the new guidance builds upon the work of the Shetland Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) and the SMSP Advisory Group, and was developed with the support of local stakeholders including advisors, planners, regulators, communities and developers.
NAFC Marine Centre’s Dr Lorraine Gray said: “Our goal is to integrate local environmental, social and economic considerations into the site selection process for marine renewable energy and these new maps will allow users of the sea to make future decisions on developments with greater knowledge and certainty – making sure the right developments happen in the right places.
“This current assessment has created buffers on features, such as important fishing grounds or areas for recreational use which has been informed by local experts.
“Marine renewable energy development has the potential to create significant community and environmental benefits, as well as contributing to Shetland’s wider – and sustainable – economic development.
“While the maps should only be used as an information tool, we are confident that the new guidance will be extremely valuable to developers during pre-application consultation and will, in turn, help promote the potential for this emerging industry.”