Offshore Renewable Energy Development in the British Islands: Legal and Political Risk - Part 2: Update and Removing Blockages to Development

In Part 1 of this two-part article, it was argued that: offshore renewable energy development is a central pillar of United Kingdom plans for a largely decarbonised economy by mid-century; in order to reach ambitious climate change targets and budgets, and a related renewables target, step changes are needed in levels of investment in offshore generating stations, electricity transmission networks and related supply chains; and so key aims must be driving down costs and delivering for investors short-term certainty and longer-term visibility (balanced, of course, with a degree of policy flexibility). The first of the two main mechanisms in which the law will play a major part in meeting those key aims, Electricity Market Reform (EMR), was discussed in Part 1, in the context of political and legal risk for investors, to the extent that EMR had emerged by 24 July 2013. It should be noted that the relevant political landscape has changed fundamentally since that date, warranting an update of Part 1 now. The second mechanism, removing barriers to offshore renewable energy development through improving or introducing major infrastructure planning, marine planning, licensing consents, environmental management, transmission network (grid) access and use/amenity accommodation and decommissioning processes, are now discussed in this second part, following the above-mentioned update. Account will again be taken of developments in Devolved Administrations and the Crown Dependencies. The piece is up to date as of 19 September 2013.

Offshore renewable energy (ORE) development is a central pillar of United Kingdom plans for a largely decarbonised economy by mid-century. To reach ambitious climate change targets and a related renewables target, however, step changes are needed in levels of investment in and construction of offshore generating stations, related electricity transmission net works and their supply chains. Key aims will be driving down costs and delivering for investors short-term certainty and longer term visibility. The law will play a major part in meeting both aims, particularly in respect of: encouraging adherence to declared and ambitious energy and climate change policies, targets and budgets and the effective and transparent execution of detailed Electricity Market Reform (and important transition) arrangements; and removing barriers to ORE development through improvements to planning and licensing consents, marine spatial planning, environmental management processes, providing swift and affordable access to an adequate electricity transmission network, sea use and amenity accommodation and decommissioning processes.

Other jurisdictions, not least the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey), who share many of the UK’s ambitions, will be able to learn from the UK’s experience and performance, both good and bad, as an early pioneer in legal approaches to ORE development, extending to tidal and wave energy, as well as offshore wind, as part of a widely desired transition to a largely low-carbon economy by mid-Century. Indeed, unless the Coalition Government and its successor after the General Election in May 2015 come back on track towards achieving a substantial and healthy ORE industry and domestic supply chain with real export potential as part of an electricity generating sector employing an energy mix heavy on renewables, the UK will probably lose its chance to be at the forefront of a “Green Industrial Revolution” and will be surpassed by countries well placed to learn with profit from its mistakes.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 03/2013 (September 2013)
Seiten: 40
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Prof/Dr Glen Plant

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