A note from SNCBs
Upon the release of the iPCoD software in 2014, the iPCoD steering group released the following statement on the use of iPCoD:
“The statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs) and regulators participated in an Interim PCoD training workshop and are now considering the scope of the tool and how and when it might be used to inform EIA and HRA processes and consenting decisions for marine renewable energy projects. Therefore some of the messages that follow are preliminary.
- To date, due to uncertainties about the consequences of disturbance on marine mammal individuals and populations, current consenting decisions have drawn upon expert opinion, but not always in a transparent, comparable and auditable way. Whilst Interim PCoD relies on some strong assumptions and on expert opinion, its strengths include being transparent, auditable and quantitative.
- SNCBs consider the Interim PCoD a novel modelling tool with potential to increase our understanding of the effects of disturbance and collision on marine mammal populations, particularly in identifying those input parameters that may most influence the modelled outcomes, and as such support its use.
- Developers should consult regulators and their advisers if they are considering using the Interim PCoD at an early stage i.e. before application stage.
- Whilst SNCBs do not anticipate a need for the Interim PCoD to be used in the EIA/HRA processes for every single development, this tool may form a useful reference in standardising the type of data submitted in impact assessments which will help when assessing cumulative effects. For large-scale developments and clusters of developments the tool may also help standardise the process for population level assessments. Decisions on when PCoD might be a useful tool should be made on a case-by-case basis in discussion with the relevant SNCBs and Regulators.
- One of the main strengths of the Interim PCoD may be at assessing the cumulative effect of several developments and SNCBs advise that this is better achieved at the strategic level (e.g. SEA, and/or as a result of a joint effort between regulators, their advisers and developers [e.g. regional monitoring groups]). We will be working to encourage this approach in the future.
- SNCBs acknowledge that there will need to be a process in place to address matters related to the interpretation of model results (e.g. thresholds of acceptable change and time frames).
- A joint effort involving government, regulators and industry is now needed to contribute to research on how disturbance influences life-history parameters. The outputs of this research would replace parameters in the model that have been quantified by the expert elicitation process with empirical values. There are some ongoing initiatives through NERC, ORJIP and industry led (e.g. DEPONS) but more is needed.
- SNCBs would welcome feedback from developers on where and how they think this tool could add value to assessment processes.”