To help address the challenges of developing offshore renewables, Marine Scotland has taken steps towards delivering a simplified licensing system, which aims to be transparent, efficient and proportional.
In April 2011, a one-stop-shop for offshore wind, wave and tidal developers to obtain consents/licences for marine renewable developments in Scottish waters was developed. It creates a simpler, more streamlined process to handle marine/offshore energy development applications and aims to reduce some of the burden for applicants and regulators alike.
It has created a more joined-up process and promotes a close working relationship with consulting bodies by running applications simultaneously through the various bodies and processes that need to be involved. It also allows public participation, opportunities to comment and provides a mechanism to manage enquiries and interaction with applicants, stakeholders and public. A flowchart detailing the licensing process is available, to help explain the process.
Marine Scotland aims to provide a decision on all applications within nine months (where no Public Local Inquiry is called).
A Marine Renewables Licensing Manual has been produced for the first time, providing information and guidance to developers on the licensing process and work is under way to update it to incorporate offshore wind licensing elements, policy guidance and licensing policy created by the Marine Act.
- Survey, Deploy and Monitor Policy
The Survey, Deploy and Monitor Policy aims to provide a risk-based approach to help address uncertainties in licensing for offshore renewables development, taking into consideration environmental sensitivity, device type and scale of development.
The aim of the renewables demonstration strategy is to reduce the environmental uncertainty currently inherent in the licensing of renewables developments in Scottish waters. Information, beyond the monitoring which would be required of the developer as consent conditions, will be obtained and used to inform the licensing/consenting of future developments.
In agreement with developers taking forward initial array developments, Marine Scotland will use consented projects to gather strategic information into how marine devices interact with the wider ecosystem. Priority for demonstration strategy investigations will be given to those interactions which are relevant to features of the environment that may be designated under EU (or national) legislation, i.e. seabed habitats, seabirds, marine mammals (seals and cetaceans), and migratory fish (primarily salmonids).
Work is being undertaken to look at amending primary legislation (the Town and Country Planning [Scotland] Act 1997) using Parliamentary Order Process. This will allow Scottish Ministers the authority to grant deemed planning permission for onshore ancillary works related to offshore/marine energy development.
Work is under way, in consultation with the marine offshore renewables industry and other stakeholders, to produce Scottish Government licensing policy guidance on the application of the 'Rochdale Envelope' approach.
The approach tries to address some of the issues associated with projects where there are uncertainties over the final details of a proposed development, while ensuring compliance with environmental legislation. These uncertainties could include scale, type of device, elements and dimensions of the device and/or other factors, if there remain limitations in the amount of detail that is available on the project at the time at which consent is being sought.