Clean energy company SSE Renewables operates a number of existing wind farms across the UK and Ireland, with plans for significant expansion over the next decade including an Irish pipeline of up to 5GW.
After extensive dialogue with the parts of the fishing industry that it had earliest involvement with, the company has worked over a period of more than two years to compile a report outlining the steps it has taken to build upon its existing relationship within the fishing industry, and a series of principles that will underpin future engagement.
SSE Renewables commercial fisheries manager Fingal McKiernan here outlines the thinking behind the document.
At SSE Renewables, we consider ourselves a leading developer of offshore wind energy. We have the largest offshore wind portfolio in the UK and Ireland, which we are continuing to grow.
Globally, we are currently building more offshore wind than any other company in the world. Our journey thus far has taught us how crucial commercial fisheries are to our operations, and how important our relationship with them is to our long-term growth strategies.
Our ‘Principles for Co-existence with Commercial Fisheries’ document outlines our vision, principles and strategy for how to be a better neighbour in the marine environment, and how to facilitate better co-existence with the fishing sector.
The report outlines our internal commercial fisheries strategy, which aims to align SSE Renewables’ offshore wind operations under a holistic, cohesive and consistent framework for working with the fisheries sector.
We have decided to publicise it in the hope it provides a platform to begin aligning our two sectors behind a single common goal to deliver two vital global priorities – sustainable food security and energy security. We hope the report will provide fishers with a better understanding of how offshore wind energy is developed, and how their voice can be heard, and their input considered, during the development processes.
Offshore wind will form the backbone of the transition to net zero, and it must happen at scale and pace. It is important that this transition is fair and just for all parties.
If we are to decarbonise the world using our oceans, our biggest neighbour, as offshore wind developers, is commercial fisheries, so we must ensure we safeguard the needs of our fisheries sector for future generations.
That’s why we’re taking action to create an environment for co-existence, ensuring we are doing what we can to work collaboratively with the fisheries sector through transparency, co-operation and understanding.
There are many hurdles to tackle on the journey to net zero – it is challenging for all. We stand a far better chance of successfully reaching it if we embark on this journey together. We’re much more likely to do this if we want to work together, if we want to collaborate, rather than feeling like we should.
Offshore wind is a new venture, and new ventures in themselves can create opportunities. They can promote synergy and co-creation, if we open ourselves up to these opportunities with a willingness to listen and learn, a willingness to compromise, and a willingness to understand each other’s viewpoints and acknowledge our differences.
The publication of our ‘Principles for Co-existence with Commercial Fisheries’ outlines SSE Renewables’ commitment on this shared approach, and we hope it strengthens our relationship with the fisheries sector. It will help contribute towards creating a platform for a more synergetic approach to co-existence, so we can go on this net-zero journey together, as one.