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Awel y Môr Offshore Wind Farm
Received 06 July 2022
From Natural Resources Wales
“PROPOSED AWEL Y MÔR OFFSHORE WINDFARM PLANNING INSPECTORATE REFERENCE: EN010112 RELEVANT REPRESENTATION FROM NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. NRW have identified key concerns relating to the following matters, which have been split into offshore and onshore as set out in the Environmental Statement (ES): - OFFSHORE • Marine mammals - ONSHORE • Flood Risk (Flood Risk Activity Permit) • Designated Landscapes The above matters are those that require amendments to the scheme, substantial additional information, or a revised Development Consent Order (‘DCO’). The topic heading for these matters are marked “Key Concern” in the relevant sections below. We also provide comments below on matters that may need minor amendments and / or clarification. These are matters that we can provide further details on in our Written Representations and / or can be addressed in our on-going dialogue with the Applicant in the preparation of our Statement of Common Ground (SoCG). 1.2. NRW shall continue to provide advice to the Applicant on all the required matters, through correspondence and meetings, with the aim of reaching as many positions of agreement and common ground as possible prior to the examination of the proposals. Our Relevant Representation is based solely on the information provided within the application documents. Any changes in our position will be reflected in our full Written Representation and SoCG. 1.3. NRW has reviewed the DCO submission and, notwithstanding our key concerns and other issues raised in this representation, consider the submission, on balance, to be comprehensive and of a good quality. NRW is pleased to note that many of our previous concerns, as raised during the pre-application process, have been appropriately addressed. 1.4. Our comments are made without prejudice to any further comments NRW may wish to make in relation to this application and examination whether in relation to the ES, provisions of the draft DCO and its Requirements, SoCG or other evidence and documents provided by RWE and their consultants (‘the Applicant’), the Examining Authority or other interested parties. The following paragraphs comprise our Relevant Representation as a Statutory Party under the Planning Act 2008 and Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties) Regulations 2015 and as an ‘interested party’ under s102(1) of the Planning Act 2008. 1.5. In addition to being an interested party under the Planning Act 2008, NRW exercises functions under distinct legislation including (but not limited to) the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR) 2016 (as amended) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MACAA) 2009. NRW has received applications for a Marine Licence under the MACAA 2009. For the purpose of clarity, comments from NRW Regulation and Permitting Service are titled as such, and include comments in Annex A. We provide a comment on NRW’s general purpose in section 4. 2. OFFSHORE 2.1. Marine Mammals – KEY CONCERN 2.1.1. The proposal has the potential to impact marine mammal Annex II and European Protected Species (EPS) and we consider that impacts such as auditory injury and associated disturbance have not been adequately assessed. 2.1.2. NRW considers that the assessment of impacts of underwater noise on marine mammals is inadequate. I. There is inadequate justification for the absence of assessment of cumulative Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) in the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA); as such we consider that the assessment is incomplete. II. There are insufficient grounds to conclude that PTS-onset risk has a negligible impact on harbour porpoise when cumulative PTS-onset has been excluded from the Marine Mammal Mitigation Protocol (MMMP) (APP-107); III. In order to allow a more comprehensive analysis of PTS and disturbance, NRW considers that additional modelling should be carried out and additional model details provided in order to inform assessments of underwater noise and PTS onset. This includes carrying out Interim Population Consequences of Disturbance (iPCoD) modelling for harbour porpoise disturbance and PTS injury, including modelling parameters used. IV. NRW does not recommend the use of dose/response curves to conduct an area-based assessment to estimate area of harbour porpoise habitat disturbed. Given that disturbance for harbour porpoise Special Area of Conservation (SACs) is defined through spatial and temporal thresholds of 20% daily and 10% seasonal disturbance, as set out in the supporting advice for the disturbance conservation objective (CO2) for porpoise sites, we advise that an area-based assessment should be carried out where the extent of habitat that is insonified to a level that might produce significant disturbance is determined. Although there is a strong link between area lost and numbers disturbed, directly equating the probability of population response to loss of habitat / loss of habitat quality (i.e. using a dose response curve to calculate habitat loss) is currently not possible. 2.1.3. There is insufficient justification to support a conclusion of no Likely Significant Effect from vessel collision for bottlenose dolphin, grey seal or harbour porpoise features of relevant SACs. 2.1.4. A number of figures in the revised marine mammal Chapter 7 (AS-026) appear to be incorrect. For example, Figure 21 is supplied in place of Figure 19, and Figure 21 does not contain all the necessary data layers either time it is presented. Corrected figures should be supplied alongside confirmation of the nature of any revisions from the original version (APP-053). 2.2. Marine Ornithology 2.2.1. NRW advises that a detailed assessment of the potential impacts of the project on the breeding seabird features of Pen-y-Gogarth / Great Orme’s Head Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) (guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes) should be undertaken, as currently this has not been done sufficiently to assess effects on these features. 2.2.2. From the evidence provided, it does appear that the extent of the supporting habitat for red-throated diver (RTD) within the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area (SPA) will be maintained if the project is constructed and therefore there will be no adverse effect on the RTD feature of Liverpool Bay SPA from loss of habitat. 2.2.3. However, we note that the displacement of RTD in this part of Liverpool Bay SPA is not consistent with what has been observed in other areas of Liverpool Bay SPA, as well as in other areas of the UK and Europe. 2.2.4. Given this anomaly in observation, NRW advises that comprehensive validation monitoring before, during, and after construction is needed to confirm that it is the case that supporting habitat (as identified in the sites conservation objectives) has not been lost. 2.2.5. NRW agrees that a vessel traffic management plan, using measures such as, but not limited to, restricting vessel movements to existing navigation routes, is necessary in order to avoid or reduce disturbance, and therefore displacement. As requested by the Applicant, we will work with the Applicant to produce and implement the plan. NRW considers that a vessel traffic management plan could be secured as a condition in the marine licence. 2.2.6. NRW notes that the Furness et al (2015) stable age structure assessment method has been applied. Whilst NRW would have preferred that stable age structure is calculated from the local surveys, or, by adopting a precautionary approach by counting all birds as adults, we do not consider that this impacts the final assessments. Therefore, NRW agree with the conclusions presented. 2.2.7. By looking at the range of figures presented for displacement and mortality, NRW were able to make an assessment (on a precautionary level) at higher levels of displacement and mortality than were chosen by the Applicant. By looking at the full range of variability of displacement and mortality, we do not consider this to be an issue. 2.3. Physical Processes 2.3.1. NRW agrees with the baseline description, numerical modelling approaches, assessment methodology, and the assessment conclusions with respect to the potential impacts of the Awel-y-Môr project on physical processes, as outlined in the ES. 2.3.2. NRW notes that the local dimensions of secondary scour are highly dependent upon the specific shape, design and placement of the scour protection. These parameters are highly variable and so there is no clear quantitative method or evidence base for accurately predicting the dimensions of secondary scour. Given the uncertainty regarding the spatial extent and volume of secondary scour, we therefore advise that post-construction monitoring should be considered. Clarity is required on the most appropriate regulatory mechanism needed to secure it. We acknowledge that the assessment of primary scour has been undertaken using recognised empirical equations supported by knowledge of the foundation design dimensions, and we agree with the assessment as presented. 2.4. Benthic Subtidal and Intertidal Ecology 2.4.1. NRW agrees that the data collected through the site-specific surveys, through the desktop review of existing literature, and data sources are sufficient to appropriately characterise the benthic ecology throughout the array and export cable corridor (ECC). We also agree with the assessment methodology and the assessment conclusions with respect to the potential impacts of the project on benthic receptors, as outlined in the ES. 2.4.2. We agree with the conclusion of the Report to Inform Appropriate Assessment (RIAA) that, provided the mitigation measures outlined are adhered to, the project will not have an adverse effect on site integrity (AEOSI) and therefore will not undermine the conservation objectives of the benthic designated features of the Dee Estuary SAC and the Menai Strait and Conwy Bay SAC. 2.4.3. From the evidence presented, the areas of low resemblance stony reef do not meet the strong justification criteria in terms of biological communities that NRW would expect within an Annex I feature. NRW therefore agrees with the conclusion presented that the discrete patches of stony habitats found in the ECC area do not qualify as Annex I stony reef. 2.4.4. NRW considers that the magnitude of impact from the potential introduction of marine invasive non-native species (mINNS) should be presented as Low (and not negligible) as there is a continuous risk of mINNS being introduced. Notwithstanding this, we consider that the significance of the impact would still be minor and therefore not significant in EIA terms. 2.4.5. We acknowledge the commitment of the Applicant to produce a biosecurity risk assessment to be conditioned within the marine licence, as outlined in the Schedule of Mitigation (APP-310) and the Marine Licence Principles document (AS-023). NRW recommends that the marine biosecurity plan is a free-standing document kept separate to the terrestrial plan provided in the Outline INNS Management Plan (APP-323). NRW should be consulted on the suitability of a marine biosecurity risk assessment and plan ahead of commencement of activities. Clarity is required on the most appropriate regulatory mechanism needed to secure it. 2.5. Saltmarsh - Clwyd Estuary 2.5.1. We note that the onshore cable will intersect Atlantic salt meadow at the Clwyd Estuary. Whilst the Clwyd Estuary is not a SAC or SSSI, saltmarsh is a section 7 habitat under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016. We note that there is a commitment in the Crossing Schedule (APP-121) for the use of trenchless techniques (for example, Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD)) underneath the Clwyd Estuary. However, we require confirmation regarding how the cable will cross the river if it is undergrounded, that the techniques employed will be deep enough to avoid the saltmarsh and minimise cable exposure, and that appropriate entry and exit sites (pits) are identified. Such detail should be specified in the Outline Construction Method Statement (APP-313). 2.6. Fish and Shellfish Ecology 2.6.1. NRW considers that a robust assessment has been carried out to support the overall conclusions of no significant impacts on fish and shellfish receptors. 2.6.2. NRW agrees that the data collected through the site-specific surveys, through the desktop review of existing literature, and data sources are sufficient to appropriately characterise the fish and shellfish ecology throughout the array and export cable corridor. 2.6.3. NRW agrees with the conclusion of the RIAA that the project will not undermine the conservation objectives of the designated migratory fish features of the River Dee and Bala Lake SAC and Dee Estuary SAC. 2.6.4. The assessment asserts that Atlantic salmon do not pass through the array area and are therefore unlikely to be exposed to potential impacts from noise. However, we note that evidence supporting this assertion is not available. Nonetheless, NRW agrees that Atlantic salmon are not considered to be very sensitive to underwater noise impacts and furthermore, will only be transient in the array area. Therefore, NRW agrees with the overall conclusion of no AEOSI on the River Dee and Bala Lake SAC. 2.6.5. NRW agrees with the assessment methodology and the assessment conclusions of the potential impacts on fish and shellfish receptors. There are, however, some inaccuracies in the assessment, for example: there appears to be an error used in the calculation of affected spawning area for sandeel (Table 18, in Chapter 6: (APP-052)), where the figure from Worst Case Scenario (WCS) monopile piling NW location scenario has been adopted, rather than temporal Maximum Design Scenario (MDS) for multi-leg foundation modelling at the NW location. Furthermore, we do not consider that the assumptions used when modelling spawning fish as fleeing receptors are realistic, for example, we do not consider a sustained swim speed of 1.5m/s-1 is realistic for spawning sole. Consequently, it is our view that the figures presented for the Valued Ecological Receptor (VER) affected spawning potential do not represent realistic scenarios for some fish receptors, such as sole, plaice, cod and whiting. Nonetheless, NRW recognises that regardless of this, the resulting area impacted by noise from piling activities remains minor, when compared to the wide available spawning habitat in the region. NRW agrees that the significance of effect on VERs remain ‘minor adverse’ and are therefore not significant in EIA terms. 2.6.6. NRW notes the cumulative environmental assessment (CEA) undertaken for fish receptors and requires further information on how the cumulative impacts to fish populations over multiple spawning seasons from underwater noise arising from consecutive construction activity from several offshore windfarm projects in Liverpool Bay has been considered. 2.6.7. NRW agrees with the conclusions that the project will not impact Water Framework Directive (WFD) fish status in the affected Transitional waterbodies. 2.7. Marine Water and Sediment Quality (MW&SQ) 2.7.1. NRW agrees that there is no impact on Bathing Waters from elevated suspended sediment, during the construction phase. 2.7.2. We do not agree with the conclusions made in relation to sediment bound contaminants, as further information is required to support the conclusion. Where data is available, the Applicant should report all data in the context of Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS) Action Levels. Once the above information has been updated and provided, we advise that the RIAA is updated to reflect this new information. 2.7.3. We do not agree with the approach to assessing impacts to phytoplankton, as the assessment is focussed on nutrients rather than light limitation caused by elevated suspended sediments in the water column. We therefore disagree with the conclusion presented. The main impact pathway arising from the construction phase to phytoplankton is elevated suspended sediment and therefore this is what the assessment should focus on. 2.7.4. We do not agree with the approach to assessing Dissolved oxygen (DO) as the assessment is focussed on nutrients rather than suspended sediments. DO can be impacted by the remobilisation of anoxic sediments or sediments with organic content and associated bacteria. We therefore disagree with the conclusion presented, and we recommend that this is clarified. 2.7.5. We disagree with the Applicant’s conclusion that potential spills will only cause temporary issues as these chemicals can persist in the environment for long periods. We consider that the impact should be ‘medium adverse’ rather than ‘negligible adverse’ as presented in the ES, as the ability to meet Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) could be compromised (Table 6, Page 59: Chapter 3 (APP- 049)). However, we note the mitigation commitments presented to produce a Project Environment Management Plan (PEMP) and Marine Pollution Contingency Plan (MPCP) as part of the marine licence condition. Providing these conditions are secured and delivered, we can agree that the risk is mitigated to an acceptable level. 2.7.6. A number of inter-relationships between MW&SQ and other receptors have been overlooked, including but not limited to elevated bacterial counts and their ability to impact human health, which would be of relevance under the Bathing Waters Directive. 2.7.7. We agree with the conclusions in the ES with respect to suspended sediment in Water Framework Directive (WFD) water bodies (Chapter 3 Para 129 & 132 (APP-049)). However, for the purposes of the WFD Compliance Assessment (CA), please see comment below (comment 2.8.3). 2.7.8. We consider that the relationships between marine water quality and the onshore works have been considered appropriately and therefore agree with the conclusions and mitigation suggested. 2.8. Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Coastal and Transitional Water Bodies) - North Wales Coastal Water Body 2.8.1. NRW agrees with the assessment of the potential impacts upon the hydromorphology resulting from the presence of physical structures as provided in Volume 2, Chapter 2: Marine Geology, Oceanography and Physical Processes (APP-048). We therefore agree with the conclusion of the WFD CA (APP-094) for the hydromorphology element – that the proposed activities will not result in deterioration of status of the water body or jeopardise the attainment of its objectives. 2.8.2. NRW agrees with the characterisation of the biology, assessment methodology and the assessment conclusions of the potential impacts on benthic receptors as outlined in Volume 2, Chapter 5: Benthic Subtidal and Intertidal Ecology (APP-051). NRW therefore agrees with the conclusions of the WFD CA for biology: habitats within the water body - that the biological elements associated with this would not be at risk of deterioration as a result of the project. 2.8.3. In relation to water quality, we note that the information presented in the MW&SQ chapter has not been transposed into the WFD CA with respect to water clarity (suspended sediment) and contaminated sediment, and as such, we cannot agree with the conclusions of the CA with respect to those aspects of the assessment at present. 2.8.4. In relation to water quality, we do not agree with the conclusions with respect to phytoplankton and dissolved oxygen (DO) as the assessment focusses on nutrients rather than water clarity (please see comments 2.7.3 and 2.7.4 above). Water clarity is the main impact pathway arising from the proposed works which could affect the phytoplankton and DO status of the North Wales water body and therefore the assessment should focus on this. - Clwyd Transitional Water body 2.8.5. Based on the statement made at para 128 and in Table 9 of Volume 4 - Annex 3.1 (APP-094) that “there are no current intentions to install structures which may alter the hydromorphology of the Clwyd transitional waterbody”, NRW agrees with the conclusions of the WFD CA for the hydromorphology element within the Clwyd water body. 2.8.6. NRW agrees with the WFD CA conclusions for biology – habitats within the water body, that provided that no direct interaction with the biological habitats in the Clwyd transitional waterbody will occur due to the proposed trenchless techniques, the project will not cause deterioration to the biological elements within the water body, or jeopardise the attainment of Good Ecological Potential. 2.8.7. NRW agrees with the WFD CA conclusions for water quality within the water body, that due to the trenchless techniques proposed, the project will not cause deterioration to the water quality within the water body or jeopardise the attainment of Good Ecological Potential. 2.8.8. We note that there is a commitment in the Crossing Schedule (APP-121) for the use of trenchless technique (e.g. HDD) underneath the Clwyd. However, we seek confirmation regarding how the cable will be brought across the river if it is undergrounded; that the techniques employed will be deep enough to avoid the saltmarsh and minimise cable exposure, and that appropriate entry and exit sites (pits) are identified. We advise that this information should be included in the Outline Construction Method Statement (APP-313). We advise that if the proposal to employ trenchless techniques changes, then the WFD CA will need to be revisited and any impacts properly assessed. 2.8.9. NRW agrees with the proposal to produce a biosecurity risk assessment and for it to be secured as a condition of the marine licence. 2.9. Decommissioning - Offshore 2.9.1. We acknowledge the commitment to produce a Decommissioning Plan under section 105 of the Energy Act 2004 and as identified under Requirement 20 of the draft DCO (AS-014) and in the Marine Licence Principles (AS-023). 2.9.2. We note, from the ES, the intention to completely remove all infrastructure at the end of the operational lifetime of the project, unless, closer to the time of decommissioning it is decided that removal would lead to a greater environmental impact than leaving some components in situ. 2.9.3. NRW considers that offshore renewable projects should produce decommissioning plans that retain all decommissioning options (maintain, full removal and partial removal); the options for which can be assessed and refined closer to the time of decommissioning itself in consultation with NRW. NRW reserves its position until a draft plan is submitted at which point we will provide further advice. 2.9.4. NRW advises that the Applicant will need to submit a marine licence application at the point of decommissioning to remove infrastructure. 2.9.5. We advise that the Applicant follows the industry decommissioning guidance produced by BEIS. - Draft Development Consent Order: Requirements 2.9.6. There are notable differences between the proposed timings of submission for the offshore and onshore decommissioning plans, as drafted in the DCO (Requirements 20 and 21 respectively) (AS-014)) and associated parts of the ES. For example, we note that an onshore plan is to be submitted at least 6 months prior to any decommissioning works commencing, and an offshore plan is to be submitted 4 months prior to commencement of construction. We recommend that the reasons for such discrepancies are clarified. In addition, it would be prudent to understand how decommissioning plans for both the offshore and onshore aspects of this project will be dealt with. Clarity is required on what the appropriate regulatory mechanism would be to secure decommissioning plans, unless it is considered that the DCO needs to address both aspects because the consent is ultimately for the project which includes both offshore and onshore elements. 2.10. Schedule of Mitigation and the Marine Licence Principles 2.10.1. There are a number of inconsistencies between the Schedule of Mitigation (APP-310) and the Marine Licence Principles document (AS-023) that require clarification. For example, the Schedule of Mitigation refers to a Cable Specification and Installation Plan to be secured as part of the marine licence, but which is not recognised in the Marine Licence Principles document as a specific document (albeit cable management plans are noted). This potentially results in confusion as to the exact measures that are to be secured as part of the project mitigation. 3. ONSHORE 3.1. Designated Landscapes – KEY CONCERN 3.1.1. The ES chapter Seascape, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (AS-027) acknowledges that the proposal will have significant effects on a number of viewpoints. Based on the ES and supporting ES Appendices, NRW advises that the offshore works are likely to have numerous and extensive significant adverse effects on seascape, landscape and visual receptors within the Isle of Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Snowdonia National Park (NP) and within their settings. Special Qualities set out in the respective management plans for the areas which support the designations, would be adversely affected. These concerns relate to all Maximum Design Scenarios (MDS) i.e. those relating to MDS of the smaller number of Wind Turbine Generators (WTGs) and the MDS relating to the larger number of WTGs as detailed in the offshore project descriptions (APP-047) 3.1.2. NRW are concerned that the proposal will result in unacceptable adverse effects on the Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP designated landscapes through conflict with the purpose of conservation and enhancement of natural beauty, which is enshrined in the purposes of these designated landscapes. 3.1.3. In addition, NRW considers that there would be non-significant, but adverse effects on the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB as well as other non-significant but adverse effects on the Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP. 3.1.4. NRW considers that there has been an under-estimation of some seascape, landscape and visual effects on designated landscape receptors within the Seascape Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (SLVIA). 3.1.5. Whilst we acknowledge the embedded mitigation of the reduced western extent of the array, and that a reduction in the number of WTGs has been applied, we do not consider it sufficient to reduce the likely significant effects at the numerous viewpoints within Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP. The visual impacts will lead to significant adverse effects on landscape character within these Nationally Designated Landscapes and within their seascape settings. 3.1.6. In terms of mitigation, a further substantial reduction in array area and/or scale or number of turbines would be required to minimise adverse effects on the Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP. Further consideration of NRW’s evidence base “Seascape & visual sensitivity to offshore wind farms in Wales: Strategic assessment and guidance” would assist in informing an appropriate reduction. 3.1.7. NRW advises that opportunities for enhancement of the designated landscapes should be considered in accordance with Welsh National Marine Plan Policy SOC_06: Designated Landscapes. NRW considers enhancements represent compensation and/or offsetting and not mitigation for adverse effects, as any enhancements would not be directly related to the impacts. 3.1.8. Whilst NRW considers that the landscape and visual effects of the onshore substation on the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB are unlikely to be significant, adverse effects should nevertheless be minimised and the materials and colours of the proposed buildings and infrastructure should be designed to minimise visual impacts. We note the intention to secure such detail under DCO Requirement 6, but advise that this also needs to be considered from a landscape and visual perspective. 3.1.9. The proposals are likely to have adverse night-time visual effects on the Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP. Dark skies are a noted feature of the Peace & Tranquillity Special Quality within the Anglesey AONB. 3.1.10. NRW are concerned that adverse incremental, combined cumulative seascape, landscape and visual effects may arise on the Isle of Anglesey AONB and Snowdonia NP because of plan and projects both offshore and onshore. 3.2. Flood Risk - Flood Risk Activity Permit – KEY CONCERN 3.2.1. NRW does not consent to the Applicant’s request for the DCO to include a provision to remove the requirement for a prescribed consent to be granted (namely Flood Risk Activity Permits (FRAP) (as detailed in the Consents and Licences Required Under Other Legislation document (APP-037)) under s150 Planning Act 2008. NRW considers that a FRAP application should be made for each main river crossing (and associated flood defences) in accordance with the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 (EPR 2016). 3.2.2. The Outline Construction Method Statement (APP-313) advises (paragraph 69) that “….the depth of each cable at every watercourse or flood defence crossing will be determined through the Crossing Schedule in consultation and agreement with the relevant authority on a case-by case basis in collaboration with the respective…”. It also advises in the same document (paragraph 70) that “….Options for open cut or trenchless crossing of watercourses will be finalised following ground investigation…”. For a number of crossings, it has not been confirmed which crossings will be open cut and whilst accepting that they are likely to be on the smaller watercourses it should be ensured that open cut crossings of main rivers be subject to a bespoke application. 3.2.3. A bespoke FRAP application would usually be required for each new crossing beneath a main river which includes both the permanent works and the temporary works. A permanent application would include details such as depth of cover beneath the bed of the main river and level of pipe/cable within an 8m/16m distance from the banks of the main river/toe of any associated flood defence structures. A temporary works application would consider the cable’s installation method be it open cut or trenchless crossing. 3.2.4. It should be noted that service crossings below the bed of a main river (by trenchless techniques) can be registered as an exempt flood risk activity under the Regulations provided that certain key conditions can be met as per part 4 of Schedule 3 of the EPR 2016. - Flood Consequence Assessments 3.2.5. The Export Cable Corridor is located within zone C1 of the Development Advice Map (DAM) contained in Technical Advice Note (TAN)15, along with minor works in C2. The Flood Consequence Assessment refers to the Flood Risk Assessment Wales maps. The Flood Risk Assessment Wales maps should not be used for planning purposes; NRW advises the Flood Map for Planning (FMfP) represents more up-to-date information for assessing flood risk. However, in view of the works proposed, and as a final Construction Method Statement will be approved by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) (Requirement 10), NRW considers that flood risk can be appropriately/adequately mitigated. However, whilst consultation with NRW is specifically stated for the discharge of some Requirements (e.g. Requirement 7, 13 and 14), we note that this is not included for Requirement 10. For the avoidance of doubt, we recommend that the Draft DCO (AS-014) is updated to ensure that NRW should be consulted by the LPA prior to the discharge of Requirement 10. 3.2.6. NRW also notes that there are works in C2 which are not assessed in the Flood Consequence Assessment (APP-137). The works include an operational access track and a temporary mitigation area. It should be ensured that any tracks or temporary mitigation areas within zones C1/C2 or within 8m of a designated main river does not interfere with access to maintain the watercourse or impact on flood risk. Such proposals would be subject to a bespoke FRAP from NRW. 3.2.7. With regard to the Onshore Sub-Station, the supporting Flood Consequence Assessment has not referred to the FMfP. However, NRW is satisfied that the FMfP/DAM shows that the site is not at risk of flooding from the sea or fluvially. Some parts of the site is at risk from flooding surface water and small watercourses according to the FMfP. The Lead Local Flood Authority (Denbighshire County Council) is the appropriate body to advise with regard to the acceptability of surface water flood risk. 3.3. Protected Species (Terrestrial) 3.3.1. NRW considers the survey and assessment to be satisfactory in respect of great crested newts (GCNs), bats, otters, dormice, water voles and barn owls. Water voles and barn owls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). GCNs, bats, otters and dormice are also European Protected Species which are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended). 3.3.2. NRW agrees with the conclusions in the ES and the recommendations and proposed principles for mitigation in the Outline Landscape and Ecology Management Plan (LEMP) (APP-305). We also note that the final LEMP will be approved by the LPA following consultation with NRW. NRW agrees with this approach. However, NRW considers that amendments to the Outline LEMP should be made to ensure that the final LEMP is based on a more robust Outline LEMP (e.g. the need for an external Ecological Compliance Audit, revised details regarding long-term monitoring and management). 3.4. Fish (Freshwater) 3.4.1. We note that mitigation for fish (eels) is included in the Outline LEMP and that the final version will be approved by the LPA, in consultation with NRW. We agree with this approach. 3.4.2. NRW also notes the ES chapter Onshore Biodiversity and Nature Conservation (APP-066) discusses the declining trend of salmonids within the river Clwyd. Whilst the statement is true, the conclusions of “Not Significant” should not be based on the fact that populations are declining and numbers are low. However, NRW can agree with the conclusion based on the developer undertaking HDD under the river Clwyd which mitigate disturbance to fish. 3.5. Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) (Terrestrial) 3.5.1. NRW notes that the final (terrestrial) INNS Management Plan will be approved by the LPA (Requirement 10). NRW agrees with this approach and consider that INNS will be appropriately managed. However, as highlighted above (comment 3.2.5) we advise that NRW is consulted prior to the discharge of Requirement 10. NRW also considers that minor amendments to the Outline INNS Management Plan (APP-323) should be made in order to ensure that the final version of the plan is based on a more robust Outline version (e.g. the need for the Plan to consider landscape planting, diseases that may affect protected species, and preventive techniques). In addition, although the Outline version refers to species listed under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), NRW advises that it should also refer to the provisions under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019. 3.6. Water Quality (Freshwater) 3.6.1. NRW notes that the final Code of Construction Practice and the underpinning Method Statements and Management Plans must be submitted to and approved by the LPA (Requirement 10). NRW agrees with this approach and consider that impacts on water quality (both surface and groundwater) will be appropriately managed. However, as highlighted above (comment 3.2.5) we advise that NRW is consulted prior to the discharge of Requirement 10. 3.6.2. NRW also considers that minor amendments to the Outline Pollution Prevention and Emergency Incident Response Plan (APP-318) be made in order to ensure that the final version of the plan is based on a more robust Outline version (e.g. confirmation that no discharge of contaminated water occurs (including contamination with sediments) without the relevant exemption or Permit, not refuelling within 10m of a watercourse rather than the 5m stated). 3.7. Air Quality 3.7.1. NRW agrees with the conclusions in the ES (Chapter 11) (AS-030) that construction and operational onshore traffic is unlikely to have significant effects on any designated nature conservation site (SSSI, SAC, SPA and Ramsar site). 3.7.2. NRW notes that the works will be within the proximity of Ancient Woodland. Planning Policy Wales recognises the significant value of ancient woodlands and makes provision for their protection against damage or loss. Our standing advice to all planning proposals that may affect (directly or indirectly) ancient woodland can be found at Natural Resources Wales / Advice to planning authorities considering proposals affecting ancient woodland. The LPA will be able to advise with respect to the acceptability of the proposals in terms of Ancient Woodland. 3.7.3. However, we note that there is no assessment of any air quality impacts arising from marine vessel emissions. It is unclear whether marine vessels will operate within proximity to sensitive coastal onshore habitat (that may support features of SSSIs/SACs/Ramsar). We advise the Applicant provides additional information to demonstrate that there will not be significant impacts from marine vessel emissions. 3.8. Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Freshwater) 3.8.1. The conclusions of the WFD Compliance Assessment will be reliant on securing appropriate mitigation, including the final Code of Construction Practice and the underpinning Method Statements and Management Plans which must be submitted to and approved by the LPA. We agree with this approach. 3.8.2. We note that there are matters that will be confirmed following detailed design (e.g. as to specifically which watercourses that trenchless or trenching techniques will be employed, and exact haul road crossings). As highlighted above (comment 3.2.5), NRW should be consulted on the final Method Statements and Management Plans prior to discharge of Requirement 10. 3.8.3. We also have minor comments regarding the methodology/scoping undertaken. As an example, we consider that INNS should have been scoped into the impact assessment stage as there is a risk of introduction of INNS. However, as stated above (comment 3.5.1), we are satisfied that INNS will be appropriately managed as the final (terrestrial) INNS Management Plan will be approved by the LPA. 3.8.4. We also note that the WFD CA is based on the 2015 Western Wales River Basin Management Plan however the Applicant has been able to incorporate 2021 classification data published earlier this year into the assessment. The Examining Authority should be aware that the updated Western Wales River Basin Management Plan 2021-2027 will be published on 18th July 2022 and will be available on the NRW website here. 3.9. Materials and Waste 3.9.1. We note that the final Site Waste Management Plan will be approved by the LPA. We agree with this approach and consider that waste will be appropriately managed. As highlighted above (comment 3.2.5), NRW should be consulted on the final Site Waste Management Plan prior to discharge of Requirement 10. 4. NRW’S GENERAL PUPROSE 4.1. NRW is satisfied that this advice is consistent with its general purpose of pursuing the sustainable management of natural resources in relation to Wales, and applying the principles of sustainable management of natural resources. In particular, NRW acknowledges that the principles of sustainable management include taking account of all relevant evidence and gathering evidence in respect of uncertainties, and taking account of the short, medium and long term consequences of actions. NRW further acknowledges that it is an objective of sustainable management to maintain and enhance the resilience of ecosystems and the benefits they provide and, in so doing meet the needs of present generations of people without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and contribute to the achievement of the well-being goals in section 4 of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. --- CONTINUED --- ? ANNEX A – NRW Regulation and Permitting Services 1. Marine Licensing: Regulatory Response 1.1 The works proposed under the DCO that are within Welsh Waters require a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, for which NRW is the licensing authority. An application for a marine licence was submitted by the developer on 30 May 2022 to NRW Permitting Service (NRW PS). The application was validated on 20 June 2022. We commenced consultation with relevant consultation bodies who have until the 3 August to provide any comment. The public will also be consulted on the application in due course. Should PINS require copies of the consultation responses these can be made available on request. It is anticipated that the marine licence application will be determined concurrently with the DCO examination, although it is currently not possible to provide an indicative timescale in respect of the determination. Although there are issues that substantively overlap between the determination of the DCO and Marine Licence, it should be noted that the respective consents are determined under separate and distinct legislative processes. 1.2 It is stated in the Explanatory Memorandum, that the draft DCO submitted in support of the application ‘does not contain powers or controls which sit within the marine licencing regime’. NRW PS endorses this approach and considers that the DCO should not seek to duplicate controls within the DCO which can be placed within the Marine Licence, to avoid regulatory overlap. 1.3 NRW PS, acting in its marine licensing function, has determined that an environmental impact assessment is not required in relation to the marine licence in reliance on Regulation 10 of the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (as amended). This is on the basis that NRW PS is satisfied that an EIA assessment in respect of the project is to be carried out by the Secretary of State and that such assessment will be sufficient to meet the requirements of the EIA Directive. 1.4 The above comments are made without prejudice to any further comments that NRW PS, acting in its marine licensing function, may wish to make during the DCO examination.”