The British government wants to set up a new process to approve offshore wind farms in that country.
LONDON, England – The Department of Trade & Industry is proposing a ‘one stop shop’ to help companies complete the various applications for new offshore installations, according to energy minister Peter Hain. He has released a consultation paper that proposed a trimming of the procedure to ensure that environmental impacts are fully considered. “The proposals I have published today will smooth the path for new offshore wind farms in England and Wales,” he says. “This one-stop-shop will not only make the consents process more streamlined and transparent, it will also provide a guiding hand for developers.” The proposals would clarify early in an application what information the developers must provide, produce a single application form for the offshore consents, gather all relevant information and distribute it to the correct authorities, and help to seek solutions to any problems that developers encounter as their applications are processed. “Wind power is a vital part of our commitment to clean and renewable energy, but we will only drive this forward with full respect for local opinion,” says Hain. “The Government has announced a total of £89 million available in the form of capital grants for demonstration projects including offshore wind.” Existing arrangements are considered to be fragmented, with developers forced to make up to seven different approaches to gain approval for offshore wind facilities. The DTI proposes to act as the sole processing contact from the first step of application. “The Government is doing everything it can to help industry meet its target of supplying 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010, including encouraging a significant capacity of offshore windfarms,” he explains. “Our one-stop-shop emphasises our commitment to boosting this important new source of green energy while at the same time ensuring that the effect on the environment is properly assessed and that local views are fully considered.” The proposal would bring all commercial offshore wind and hydro generating stations in England and Wales within the scope of the DTI’s responsibility for power station consents under section 36 of the 1989 Electricity Act. Statutory approvals currently required for an offshore wind or hydroelectric generating station can invoke the Electricity Act 1989, Food & Environment Protection Act 1985, Coast Protection Act 1949, Town & Country Planning Act 1990, Water Resources Act 1991, Transport & Works Act 1992, as well as a lease from the Crown Estates Commissioners for projects in territorial waters. Responses to the DTI proposal are due by April 23. Consent arrangements in Scotland are different and the Scottish Executive will carry out its own consultation. DTI wants to see investments of £6 billion in offshore wind facilities as part of Britains’s goal of reducing GHG emissions by 19 percent by 2010.