The complexity of the licensing process of Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) projects is indicated world- wide as one of the main barriers to the sector development. The reasons for this barrier are attached, among others, to the lack of clarity of procedures (arising from the lack of specific laws for this type of projects), to the varied number of authorities to be consulted and to the process delay. Understanding the factors that consider licensing as a barrier, as well as the discussion of the necessary measures to minimise their effects on the sector implementation in several Member States, have been some of the topics explored in various European-funded projects. This analysis has been based on the description of the licensing process in several countries in order to identify differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages and good or better practices to streamline the process.
This Guide was partially funded by the RiCORE project and results from an in-depth study conducted in one of the project tasks, more specifically regarding report 2.2 (Le Lièvre & O’Hagan, 2016), which presents and discusses licensing processes in several European countries. This project was funded by the European Commission under the HORIZON 2020 programme and it is aimed at establishing an environ- mental licensing approach, based on the risk assessment of MRE technologies. This approach has already been successfully implemented in Scotland and can be summed up in the use of information about the natural sensitiveness of the location and project scale to be installed in order to define the level of re- quirements needed for the environmental studies.
The findings of the aforementioned report include an assessment of the efforts made by the countries represented in the project consortium (Spain, France, Ireland, Portugual and United Kingdom) on the measures adopted to improve licensing processes. These can be summarised in the following aspects:
- Improved operation of the single platforms or offices to managed the licensing process (the so-called one-stop-shop);
- Better integration of the licensing procedures in order to minimise the process fragmentation and centralise decisions;
- Introduction of a timeline for the various procedures and a maximum period of time for the all licensing process, taking into account the scale of the project;
- Development and provision (in institutional websites) of guidance documents explaining the licensing process in order to instruct their intervening parties.
Throughout the RiCORE project, several workshops were held to discuss the implementation of the environmental licensing risk-based approach in the countries under the project consortium. Represent- atives from several EU Member States have been invited, regarding the areas of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultancy, marine environment research (academy), industry (device developers) and public administration (regulators). This Guidance has been developed as a consequence of the need identified by some of the national stakeholders, who together with WavEC, have joined efforts to com- pile the information presented herein.
The authors believe this document contributes to clarify the licensing process of MRE technologies in Portugal, as well as making it more expedient, since good or better practices are proposed throughout the document.
This document also had the engagement of a group of authorities and colleagues with relevant expertise in the field, some of whom with direct intervention in the licensing process that promptly offered them- selves to review and validate the document. Given the constant evolution of legal systems, the aim is to update the present information whenever significant change in the law may occur.