The Development of the Consenting Regime for Offshore Renewable Energy Projects in Scottish Waters

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONSENTING REGIME FOR OFFSHORE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS IN SCOTTISH WATERS.

ADAKU UFERE

1. INTRODUCTION

Renewables are energy forms which are essentially inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuel sources, which are finite. Renewable energy sources include wind (onshore and offshore), hydro, wave, tidal, biomass, solar, and geothermal. Renewable energy can be used for heating and transport as well as electricity generation. Generating energy from renewable sources continues to rise in profile and importance for a number of reasons:

* Its promotion by the UK and Scottish Governments as a means of meeting energy targets and international obligations, particularly the Renewables Obligation; * Its role as a source of energy that does not contribute significantly towards the probable causes of climate change; * The high price of fossil fuels;

* The security of supply it represents relative to oil, gas and coal; and  * The policy trend towards discouraging reliance on fossil fuels without increasing the contribution of nuclear energy towards meeting our energy demands.

Offshore renewable energy projects are ventures entered into away from land as a means of best maximizing those natural sources of energy: wind, wave, tidal etc. to produce power. A significant proportion is entered into in Scottish territorial waters which can be defined as being within the 12 nautical mile limit from the Scottish shore although The Marine &

Coastal Access Act 2009 devolved activities in the Scottish offshore seas from 12nm – 200nm to Scottish Ministers.

This paper traces the development of offshore and onshore renewable energy in the EU, UK and primarily Scotland. Part 2 deals with the development of renewable energy through legislation and expatiates on marine planning. Part 3 outlines the old and new consenting regimes. Part 4 lists some of the offshore renewable energy projects currently underway. Part 5 gives an analysis of the system and Part 6 concludes this paper.

2. THE DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY THROUGH LEGISLATION

3.1. The European Union and the United Kingdom
In the EU initial progress was made with the Green Paper: A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy (2006) which proposed a common European energy policy which will enable Europe to face the energy supply challenges of the future and the effects these will have on growth and the environment. It continued with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008) which aimed to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. In the United Kingdom it originated with the Electricity Act (1989) which provided for the privatisation of the electricity supply industry in Great Britain and the establishment of a licensing regime and an industry regulator, the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER), now Ofgem. The Electricity Act was the primary legislation until The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) which updated several areas it covered, most importantly, the licensing and consent regime which is provided for in Section 36 of the Electricity Act. Those of particular concern to renewable energy in the Act included establishing a marine planning system and making changes to how one applies for licences to carry out certain activities in the marine environment. A case for renewable energy was also made in A Sea Change: A Marine Bill White Paper (2007) and the Energy Act 2010 which implements some of the key measures required to deliver the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) low carbon agenda.

3.2. Scotland
Scotland accounts for around nine per cent of the UK's total energy consumption, but with around 60GW of renewable energy resources - the equivalent of three-quarters of the UK's installed electricity generating capacity - it has huge potential for renewable energy generation. It can trace its renewable energy legislative development through...
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