Offshore renewable energy: decommissioning guidance for Scottish waters

Guidance to assist developers / owners of offshore renewable energy installations in Scotland to understand their decommissioning obligations under the Energy Act 2004.

4. Decommissioning requirements in Scotland

Geographical scope

4.1 The geographical scope of the decommissioning requirements, set out in the Energy Act, is between the mean low water mark and the seaward limits of the territorial sea, thereby including internal coastal waters and territorial waters) and in the Scottish REZ constructed (above the initial laying of cabling in advance of construction). However, the scope does not cover the inter-tidal zone (the area of the shore between the high and low tide water marks). Decommissioning of any infrastructure in the inter-tidal zone should be carried out in accordance with any conditions attached to a marine licence issued under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

4.2 The UK Government has produced separate guidance[5] to cover decommissioning of relevant objects in English and Welsh waters.

4.3 Responsibility for the decommissioning of cross-border sites will generally be for the Secretary of State, unless agreement is reached for the Scottish Ministers to be responsible for the whole installation.

Categories of installation included in the scope

4.4 The decommissioning requirements, as set out in the Energy Act, apply to "relevant objects", which are defined in Section 105(10) of the Energy Act as including renewable energy installations and their related electric lines. The precise definition of "renewable energy installation" is set out in Section 104(3), but inter alia includes offshore installations used for purposes[6] connected with the production of energy from water or winds. The term "offshore installations" is defined in Section 104(4) and refers to those installations situated in waters where they:

a) permanently rest on, or are permanently attached to, the bed of the waters; and

b) are not connected with dry land by a permanent structure providing access at all times for all purposes.

4.5 This guidance applies to all new OREIs in Scottish waters which fall within the definition above (whatever their generating capacity and whether they are commercial or demonstration devices). For relevant objects installed in Scottish waters or the Scottish REZ before 1 April 2017, the Scottish Ministers have a concordat with BEIS[7]. This sets out the practical arrangements for the transfer of the Secretary of State's functions under the Energy Act.

Offshore renewable energy test centres

4.6 Test centres will be required to submit decommissioning programmes for their own central infrastructure. These decommissioning programmes should be in line with Chapter 5 of this guidance and set out how they will ensure that the overall site is returned to its natural state at the end of the test centres' operation. The Scottish Ministers do not expect test centre decommissioning programmes to be updated each time a project is installed / decommissioned. The Scottish Ministers will only require appropriate financial securities for test centre operators to cover centrally owned installations or infrastructure. Securities should be reviewed and updated as per Chapter 9 of this guidance.

Test centre tenants

4.7 The Scottish Ministers expect that tenants within offshore renewable energy test centres in Scotland will produce their own decommissioning programmes for the approval of the Scottish Ministers.

4.8 Test centre tenants must provide the Scottish Ministers with appropriate financial security to enable decommissioning of the relevant objects at the end of the operating period in line with the relevant decommissioning programme.

4.9 Responsible persons wishing to construct or operate their assets at a test centre should engage with the Scottish Ministers on this matter at the earliest possible opportunity. The Scottish Ministers would expect financial securities to be in place before the start of any deployment.



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