Licensing/Consenting

This page offers insight to the Licensing and Consenting (L&C) process to gain consent.

It is regretable that the 2015 Adopted National Marine Plan (NMP) , with regard to offshore renewables, has designated  areas for possible future development, off Tiree, at some indeterminate time in the future , with no regard to SPR’s  compelling reasons to drop the Tiree Array. Scottish Government’s NMP  has simply abdicated any decision to possible future wind and /or wave development, off Tiree, into the L&C process.

This negates the supposed holistic approach MS allegedly embraced to derive the NMP Belephuil image for Energy debate

Offshore consent is processed through Scottish Government and it agencies. This contrasts with onshore consents,which is processed via Local Government and its agencies.

The L&C agency in Scotland is vested in Marine Scotland’s Licensing Operations Team (MS LOT).  MS LOT provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all marine licence applications in Scottish waters.

One of the primary agencies in -putting to MS LOT is  Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which is the Scottish public body responsible for the country’s natural heritage. SNH advises Scottish Government ,and acts as a government agent in the delivery of conservation designations.

SNH is a statutory consultee to  the L&C process.It significance can be seen in Marine Scotland’s Scoping Opinion. The Scoping opinion outlines to the Developer the many issues and constraints to be addressed in any subsequent Consent S36 application.  In the case of the Tiree Arrays Scoping Opinion ,SNH contributed  over 50% of its content

SPR for the TIREE (Argyll)ARRAY  would have been required to make a  Section 36 (S36) application, under the  Electricity Act 1989. This refers solely to ‘ offshore generators’ . Legislation is currently progressing to anticipated Royal Assent in 3Q 2013  whereby powers will be transferred to Scottish Ministers to grant deemed planning permission, via the S36 consent, for any terrestrial components of an offshore renewable generating station . (NTA has asked Marine Scotland to define and specify ‘terrestrial components‘)

For on shore elements essential to an offshore application the Developer could apply for Deemed Consent. This is a new planning power which has yet to be applies .It was always NTA’s opinion that Deemed Consent was a power too far with potential for considerable Developer abuse. Wind turbine station 5 - larger version

 

In the case of the Tiree Array this mainly concerned the possibility of an onshore converter station as illustrated

 

 

DolWin-Beta-Sails-Away

In contrast  to an offshore converter station, similar to this this  huge structure

NTA felt SPR was always  economical with the actualité” in its responses  to questions of Deemed Consent.

The Scottish Ministers would have made  the final S36 consenting decision for the Tiree(Argyll) Array.

This process is vested with MARINE SCOTLAND (MS)

The MS Directorate is responsible for the integrated management of Scotland’s seas and its stated purpose,from Scottish Government, is  to manage Scotland’s seas for prosperity and environmental sustainability.

MS Key Responsibilities

  • Work towards achieving good environmental status, through our marine planning, licensing and other functions, to help ensure a healthy and sustainable environment.
  • Promote sustainable economic growth from marine renewables industry and other marine and maritime industries through integrated planning and, where appropriate, streamlined regulatory frameworks.
  • Promote sustainable, profitable and well managed fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland.
  • Ensure sustainably managed freshwater fish and fisheries resources.
  • Ensure a sound evidence base to inform the development and delivery of marine policy, planning and services.
  • Ensure effective compliance and enforcement arrangements.
  • Continue to integrate our functions and resources, and to develop our organisational skills, competencies and capacity to ensure effective and efficient marine management arrangements in Scotland.

It’s powers are derived from the MARINE SCOTLAND ACT (2010)

SPR in its Scoping Request (Aug2010) anticipated making their consent submission in Q2 2012 .This was subsequently put back to 2013 . In  Mar 2012 SPR  announced a further 12 months delay to second half 2014. This  was subsequently updated (in 30 Oct Oct 2012) to 4th Q 2014. Five weeks later (7  Dec) SPR put the Array on  hold, subject to review end 2013 .

Consequently any SPR consents application for the proposed Array  has become indeterminate .

If (1)  SPR was to re-start the project (SPR uses the ” If ” word!!), then,(2)  with the  time frame to any consents  submission- decision etc,  and,  (3) IF consented , and (4) thereafter  no further delay to the project (most unlikely),  (5) the proposed  Tiree(Argyll) Array could not be  fully operational till  2023.

The L&C process is vested in, and initiated by  : Marine Scotland’s Scoping Opinion

Scottish Ministers  are obliged under the EIA regulations to respond to requests from developers for a scoping opinion on outline design proposals.
This document is to provide advice and guidance to developers (SPR)  to address issues collated from expert consultees , whom Scottish Government has consulted eg SNH  to enable developers , in this case SPR, to address the issues identified in the EIA process, and the ES associated with the application for Section 36 consent .
Marine Scotland has given NTA this fuller explanation of the process:-
The scoping process for s36 applications is not mandatory, however MS LOT strongly encourage developers to go through the scoping process. Scoping is there to assist developers in identifying the key environmental issues surrounding their proposal. Scottish Ministers achieve this by drawing on the knowledge of internal and external stakeholders. Once the scoping process is complete, it is for the developers to produce and submit an Environmental Statement in support of their application. Developers should take care to clearly address any issues raised within the scoping report in their ES. Developers are aware that a gate-checking exercise is undertaken within MS LOT prior to formal acceptance of the application and ES.
NTA put it to MS that this could be summarised as:- “At grave risk of over simplification SPR has to tick all the boxes of this Scoping Opinion prior to making its planning application”.
To which MS replied:-“SPR  don’t have to tick all the boxes, but we would certainly encourage them to do so “.

THE LICENSING PROCESS( Extracts and Flow diagrams  from draft  Marine en Scotland L&C Manual Oct 2012 )

Ref:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/Licensing/marine/LicensingManual

For SPR’s   Scoping Request to MS , to which MS respond with their Scoping Opinion, click on this link:-

SPR Scoping report

Further planning and Consenting issue re Final design:
NTA has been seeking clarification from SPR,  Marine Scotland and the Crown Estates to 2  recent very clear statements made by SPR.
(1) SPR need site data to design a suitable foundation solution
(2) For the planning application SPR does not need an engineered design.
Crown Estates are the only party to reply, so far and their reply offers clarity to these statements
(1)  Re:- SPR need site data to design a suitable foundation solution : _
This is correct. SPR have yet to carry out their geotechnical and geophysical site investigations which are an essential pre-requisite to the early stages of site characterisation. These surveys are simply the first basic stage in a detailed engineering process to eventually reach optimal solutions. This process also requires other baseline data such as metrological and oceanographic data as well as a range of environmental assessments.
2) Re;- For the planning application SPR does not need an engineered design
This is also correct, which may come as a surprise. The approach in the consenting process is that the developer will submit a range of potential options for the ‘project description’. This covers a very wide spectrum of technical aspects of the project including not only foundations but turbine size amongst others. The regulator, Marine Scotland will determine the application based on the range of these variables, in other words this does not mean that it is being oversimplified. Once determined the consent will have a detailed construction plan attached, which sets out conditions relating to how the WF will be built and operated.
In summary, SPR do not need a definitive design solution for their application, but they do need to provide a range of options.
NTA was advised in a previous  dialogue with Crown Estates ,  that the developer had , post granted consent , a 12 month option to declare their commitment to develop the Array.  NTA, on the assumption that as  stated by SPR  a finalized design was not required to be submitted with the planning application, asked CE for clarification of the status of the  final design within this 12 month period .
CE advised as follows;- Once the project has gained consent, the developer has a period in which to serve notice on The Crown Estate to enter into a Lease. This period allows the developer to go through the process of finalising the design and costing of the project in order to gain internal project approval to proceed with the project. The serving of the notice is an indicator of project commitment, after internal approvals have been obtained.. The developer requires a finalised design to be approved internally, which can only be based on a consented project.
It’s important to make a distinction between the project consent and thereafter the financial sign off of the fully costed project. Once it is signed off the developer has to commence procurement in relation to the construction programme which are all commercial matters confidential to SPR.
Updated May 2013

One thought on “Licensing/Consenting

  1. Ranald Noel - Paton

    First class review of the Planning and Regulatory process required for this Array. It also identifies the massive uncertainties relating to both the basic Project consents and the Financials. Failure to establish definitive planning and strategic fundamentals so far is astonishing and puts in doubt the integrity of the whole Project. Keep watch.

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