Scotland has 11 gigawatts of offshore energy—wind, waves and tides—in the pipeline for 2020, according to Scottish Renewables Director of Policy Jenny Hogan. That’s a lot. And to make sure it all makes it through, a new task-force report to First Minister Alex Salmond recommends a number of steps that officials hope will speed and smooth the siting, approval and development process.
“Scotland’s distinct approach to sectoral marine planning has already provided clarity for developers,” Salmond said upon receiving the report. “By ensuring that government, developers and others get things right at the strategic planning and earliest licensing stages we can cut the time and resource spent on inappropriate developments and allow a greater focus on those areas with the best opportunities to harness resources sustainably.”
Among the report’s recommendations was the creation of a national database of marine survey data, with information shared between the Department of Energy and Climate Chance, the Crown Estate and developers in order to reduce duplication and minimize cost and time. The report also called for “mandatory multilateral consultation” with communities and “other sea users”—including fisheries, shipping and recreational interests—as early as possible in the process.
At least one major environmental group welcomed the report. “The recommendations from the task force are very helpful in making sure the government and industry bring together all the available information on the marine environment, and engage early with stakeholders, to make the best possible decisions,” Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said in a statement. “With careful planning we can harness Scotland’s wave and tidal energy to help cut our climate emissions, while safeguarding the nation’s tremendous marine environment.”