The tidal industry is still in its infancy; numerous designs of devices are being tested at sea to prove the technology, and there has been some deployment of early small scale arrays. The consents issued for these early deployments have included conditions that require the monitoring of environmental effects. It is fair to say some developers have considered these to be onerous and they have certainly generated a number of challenges for the Project developers. The presentation will draw on developer specific experience to provide an overview of the scope of the environmental monitoring that has taken place to date, highlighting:
a) Topics that have been/are being studied/monitored;
b) Practicalities of the monitoring techniques deployed; and
c) Key outcomes (where available) with regards to verification of potential impacts.
The author will then go on to present her views on what can be learnt from this early environmental monitoring. Not only with regards to the impacts associated with the use of tidal technology, but perhaps more importantly what is an appropriate monitoring plan for a tidal project? What should project developers be expected to take responsibility for and what should be left to the wider research community? And critically, how do the regulators and their advisors make best use of lessons learnt to date.
Does the current research agenda focus on the right issues or can it be further developed to help expedite commercial deployments and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort between project developers, as well as between different jurisdictions? There is a balance to strike between developer responsibility and the wider academic research agenda, but where does the balance lie and how do the regulators and their advisors use the results available to influence future consent conditions?