The importance of mitigating the impact of offshore renewable energy developments and their associated infrastructure on the marine historic environment has been widely recognised by the Crown Estate, developers and curators for a number of years. Over the last 15 years offshore renewable schemes have given archaeologists access to large areas of seafloor that would not have otherwise been subject to archaeological investigation. Marine archaeology is a constantly evolving field, and understanding of it is increasing as more offshore developments take place. The initial assessment of the archaeological resource within a development area begins at the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) stage. As the project progresses the archaeological mitigation works are covered by a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) setting out the need for further, targeted archaeological assessments using data acquired during the site investigation process. This allows archaeologists to refine their understanding of what material is present within the development area and to adjust their advice accordingly. This paper shows examples of how archaeological sites are identified and studied using standard site investigation techniques, along with possible mitigation strategies.
Increasingly over the last 15 years, marine planning within UK waters has routinely considered the potential impact of developments on the maritime archaeological resource, termed ‘heritage assets’ or ‘archaeological assets’ in legislation. These assets range from the remains of vessels, aircraft and associated debris to historic landscapes, as well as remains deriving from the history of the British Isles and its inhabitants' exploitation of the sea (Roberts and Trow, 2002). As a result of the 2009 Act, as well as the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Northern Ireland Marine Bill, new licensing bodies for marine planning are being introduced across the UK that will further increase the protection of historic assets (HM Government, 2011).