The present report summarises several aspects of the consenting process for ocean energy in the OES member countries, based on a collection of information provided by the Delegates.
The term ‘consenting process’ is used in this report to describe all of the consents or permissions necessary to deploy a device or array of devices in the sea. The following technologies are considered: wave, tidal current, salinity gradient and OTEC. Tidal barrage is not considered due to its distinct stage of development. This report addresses the following topics, in separate chapters:
- Marine spatial planning policies and site selection for ocean energy development
- Regulatory issues and authorities involved in the consenting process
- Environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements
- Consultation as part of the licensing process
- Challenges to the consenting process and streamlined licensing processes
MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICIES
Each OES member country reports on their existing marine spatial planning (MSP) policy; how it is being effectively implemented and to what extent MSP is used as a decision making tool for ocean energy development. It further includes information about site selection carried out in each country, namely, how sites have been identified and implemented.
The main sequential steps required to get permission for project deployment are reported for each OES member country, as well as the identification of the authorities involved in the consenting process and their specific role.
References to legislation and regulations related with the consenting process for ocean energy are included with indication of fit-for-purpose consenting regulation/legislation adapted to better suit ocean energy. Plans for changing legal and administrative frameworks to facilitate development and more integrated marine governance are also mentioned.
Some countries give their view on the clarity of the process for applicants (what permits are required, in what order and what information must be supplied at what time).
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
This chapter addresses several issues related with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process: whether it is always required or instead a case-by-case analysis is applied. If a case-by-case approach is followed, the main criteria used for decision making process is mentioned, as well as the entity responsible for this decision.
There is also some information about the stage of the process at which the EIA is submitted, and in some countries how EIA baseline and post-deployment monitoring steps of the projects deployed have been carried out.
Consultation, usually a legal requirement, is briefly described by each OES member country: how is it conducted, in what stage of the process is done and who are the mandatory consultees. Some examples are provided, including informal consultation activities implemented during the licensing process.
CHALLENGES TO THE CONSENTING PROCESS
OES member countries identify the main factors that can delay the consenting process. Reference to existence or lack of specific guidance and advice available to help developers during the process is reported. To help address the challenges of developing ocean energy projects some countries have been taken steps towards delivering a simpler, more streamlined licensing system to handle ocean energy applications. In some countries a single point of contact (a "one-stop-shop") for developers to obtain consents/licenses for ocean energy projects has been established in order to make the process of gaining consents more streamlined. Usually deployment in designated test centers are already pre-consented, so developers do not have to submit a full application comprising all the typical consents providing certain initial conditions are met. OES member countries comment if this is the situation in their existing test centers.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The report concludes with a set of recommendations aiming to eliminate non-technical barriers and to ensure that the challenges encountered in the consenting process of ocean energy are overcome. These recommendations are presented for four identified critical themes:
- Integrated planning
- Administrative procedures
- Environmental Impact Assessment
The development of guidance documents and/or public platforms or databases is a recurrent recommendation over the identified critical themes.