The Welsh Government is supportive of the emerging marine renewable energy (MRE) sector and recognises the key role MRE can play in helping to meet its legal commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The Welsh National Marine Plan (Welsh Government, 2019) includes specific policies in support of low carbon technologies which deliver sustainable marine renewable energy and social and economic benefits to Wales, whilst respecting the environment and needs of local communities.
MRE developments require a range of consents from regulators to enable the full construction, operation and decommissioning of projects. Before consents can be approved the regulator must carry out several technical assessments, for example an Environment Impact Assessment Consent Decision, a Habitats Regulatory Assessment, and a Water Framework Compliance Assessment to meet legal obligations. A proportionate evidence base is required to underpin these consents and to meet the legal obligations set out in legislation such as the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended).
The Welsh Government has commissioned a review of current and emerging monitoring tools and methodologies to identify the monitoring technologies which are most suitable for monitoring interactions between key marine animals (cetaceans, seals, fish, and birds) and tidal (stream and range) renewable energy developments around Wales.
The review has built upon a recent review by Associated British Ports marine environmental research (ABPmer) (2020) commissioned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). It has included literature review, discussions with equipment manufacturers, leading research groups, developers, Non-Governmental organisations, and consultants.
The scope of the review includes marine mammals, sea birds and fish.