Offshore Wind Developments (Effects on Fishing Industry)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Bowman Bill Bowman Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with fishermen in Angus regarding the impact of offshore wind developments on the fishing industry. (S5O-03098)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Scottish Government officials regularly discuss immediate and strategic issues relating to the impact of offshore wind developments with fishermen and their representative organisations, including those from Angus. That includes discussions on projects that are going through the consenting and post-consent construction processes and on the sectoral marine plan for offshore wind—fisheries representatives sit on the cross-sectoral steering groups for that work.

My officials are currently undertaking a review of consenting instruments in order to ensure that adequate mitigation is in place to protect the fishing sector. Marine Scotland has actively sought views from the fishing industry and would welcome any further input from fishers and their representative organisations.

Photo of Bill Bowman Bill Bowman Conservative

Arbroath and Angus had thriving fishing industries prior to the implementation of the common fisheries policy. I welcome the sea of opportunity that leaving the CFP will afford my constituents.

What assessment has been made of the impact that the increasing number of offshore wind structures will have on the increased number of fishing vessels after leaving the CFP?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I am not quite sure what causal link there is between the two topics that Bill Bowman has raised. I will stick to the topic that was raised in the question—I think that that is the appropriate process that we are engaged in.

I am very happy to say that we take extremely seriously the protection of fisheries’ interests while we successfully pursue our renewable energy ambitions. I have taken a personal interest in that; indeed, when I was the energy minister, I ensured that the consents that were granted contained provisions to ensure that the fishing sector and the energy sector could work together—they are both great sectors of the Scottish economy, and it is right that we ensure that. Where conflict arises, the cross-sectoral groups on which Angus fishermen sit are a good way to resolve it. However, the consultation that I am engaged in is designed to ensure that what further—if anything—can be done to ensure that fishing interests are not prejudiced can be done. After all, the fishermen were there first.