The offshore marine environment extends from the edge of territorial waters to the extent of the UK Continental Shelf. This area continues to see extensive growth in offshore industry activity, which can have impacts, both individually and cumulatively, on marine biodiversity, ecosystems and services.
JNCC has responsibility for the provision of nature conservation advice in the offshore area, to support management of activities in the marine environment and ensure the overall sustainability of offshore activities. This includes advice to government (e.g. Defra, Welsh Government, Scottish Government); regulators (e.g. the Marine Management Organisation, Marine Scotland, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA)); seabed leasing authorities (e.g. Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland), industries themselves; environmental consultants; and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).
We advise on the impacts of offshore industries, including oil and gas, marine aggregate extraction, renewable energy, cable laying, and Ministry of Defence military activities, as well as fisheries and other human activities. This advice supports the management of offshore industries and helps ensure the overall sustainability of activities in the offshore marine environment.
Our experts have extensive knowledge of offshore biodiversity, including seabirds, marine mammals, and seabed ecology, as well as a thorough understanding of evidence sources and emerging research, which ensures our advice is based on the best-available scientific evidence. Advice is provided throughout the full licencing cycle of a project, from planning, scoping, commissioning, construction and operation, through to post-consent and decommissioning. This includes input to Strategic Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Assessments, and Habitats’ Regulations Appraisals (HRAs). We also provide the UK and devolved administrations nature conservation advice when developing their marine plans and a 24-hour advice service in the event of an offshore pollution incident.
We work closely with colleagues in the country nature conservation bodies, government departments, regulatory bodies and UK research institutes, as well as industry representatives and NGOs, and play a crucial facilitation and co-ordination role for the country nature conservation bodies to ensure there is consistency in the advice being provided. We work to direct and inform a more strategic and policy-driven approach to the provision of information and advice, through for example, the production of relevant best-practice guidance documents and membership of relevant steering groups.