Round 4 plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment
As a competent authority under the Habitats Regulations, The Crown Estate is required to undertake a plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4.
This will assess the impacts of Round 4 on the Natura 2000 network of designated sites. The plan-level HRA must be completed before seabed rights can be awarded.
We recognise that building the evidence base for the plan-level HRA with good quality research and insight can help to reduce uncertainties and ensure a more informed assessment. We have therefore worked with stakeholders to establish an Expert Working Group and identified a series of priority research projects to help build the evidence base ahead of the Round 4 plan-level HRA. The following five projects were commissioned by The Crown Estate in 2019:
- Review of cable installation, protection, mitigation and habitat recoverability
- Review of seabird foraging ranges in the breeding season
- Cumulative effects assessment tool – scoping study
- Reducing underwater noise study
- Review of seabird density data needs for plan-level HRA
The first four of these have now been delivered, and the abstracts and full reports are now available on the Marine Data Exchange.
Each project was delivered by technical specialists in the relevant fields and through collaboration and engagement with a project specific steering group made up of topic experts from the Expert Working Group.
The project to review seabird density data needs for plan-level HRA is currently being undertaken and will be completed later this year.