UK Announces Consent Process for Wave and Tidal Projects

The UK Government just announced its new and official consent process for wave and tidal demonstration projects in England and Wales, a move expected to allow the marine industry to make increased progress in this growing renewable energy field.

“The UK has a fledgling marine renewable energy industry,” said Malcolm Wicks, UK Energy Minister. “This consenting guidance together with the previously announced (GBP) 50 M package of financial support gives the marine renewables sector an opportunity to develop. We look forward to the evolution of a world-class UK industry and the clean energy and economic benefits that would go with it.” The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has worked with industry, stakeholders and across Government in the last six months to produce guidance that meets the needs of business by promoting progress while allowing concerns about the possible impact of devices on other users of the sea and on the environment to be monitored and evaluated. “The publication today of guidance for industry and stakeholders of the consenting process for England and Wales underpins the Government’s financial support,” Wicks said. “There is now a complete program in place that, whilst providing prudent safeguards, facilitates getting pre-commercial projects into the water.” The guidance contains no explicit constraints on site choice, duration and scale of demonstration projects. Pre-commercial or demonstration project managers will be required to follow the normal process for energy developments. They will be asked to produce project-specific Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). The level of detail of the EIA will be proportionate to the risk and scale of potential impacts. While there will be no need for a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) for now, DTI believes that knowledge gained from monitoring and research in the demonstration phase will allow a thorough and more valuable SEA to be conducted prior to a commercial phase. There will be a full public consultation on the SEA. A call for bids under the GBP 42 M (USD$ 73 M) Wave and Tidal Stream Energy Demonstration Scheme, which has now received approval from the European Commission, will be posted in the first quarter of 2006. Full details of the consent process are available at the following link.

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