Scoping is a critical phase in the project planning and EIA process for marine renewable energy developments. The objective of scoping is to identify the main issues of potential concern at an early a stage as possible so that they can be considered in appropriate detail in the EIA. It may also be possible to consider issues identified at scoping within the evolving project design, to avoid or reduce the likely environmental impacts. Scoping provides an opportunity for identification of:
- The key environmental impacts and causes of concern;
- Relevant sources of existing information relating to the environment and data collection;
- Development and agreement of survey and assessment methodology;
- Elements of project design that could be changed to avoid or reduce negative environmental impacts; (mitigation);
- Potential positive environmental enhancements
Given the diverse range of predicted impacts and the potentially complex regulatory/environmental assessment framework for marine renewable energy projects, early and fit for purpose scoping is important in terms of streamlining the consenting and assessment process and reducing consenting risk.
NRW Scoping Guidance
NRW have produced a useful document which provides advice on scoping an Environmental Impact Assessment for marine renewable energy developments.
This document provides advice in EIA scoping, outlines key matters that NRW (Advisory) will expect to be taken into consideration as part of an EIA for a marine renewable energy application and provides a reference for further sources of relevant information. As such, it is a very useful source of information for marine renewable developers.
NRW Natural Heritage Checklists
NRW have also produced natural heritage checklists for Wales’ demonstration zones. The information in these documents provides an overview of the natural heritage and environmental issues which may need to be taken into account for projects associated with these zones. This checklist should be read in conjunction with the outputs from The Crown Estate’s plan-level Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) of their 2013/2014 Wave and Tidal Stream leasing round. Please note that this checklist is not definitive and does not constitute a formal view from NRW on any development proposal for the demonstration zone.
To receive a Marine Scoping Opinion, potential developers should send a letter to the Permit Receipt Centre, providing the information detailed above, to:
Permit Receipt Centre, Natural Resources Wales, Cambria House, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TP
‘Marine Scoping Opinion’ should be clearly referenced on the correspondence.
- Tidal Energy Limited St David’s Head Scoping Report Aug 2012
- Tidal Energy Limited Ramsey Sound Project Scoping Report 2008
- Morlais Scoping Report for West Anglesey Demonstration Zone
- NRW Scoping opinion for West Anglesey Demonstration Zone
For Further Information
- NRW Draft advice on scoping EIA for marine renewable energy developments_
- Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the United Kingdom IEEM
- EC Guidance on EIA Scoping
- Guidance to inform marine mammal site characterisation requirements at wave and tidal stream energy sites in Wales
The “Rochdale Envelope” refers to the flexibility given to certain applications, in cases where the full details of the project are not available at the time of submitting the application, or where there are uncertainties over the final details of a proposed development. These uncertainties could include scale, type of device, elements and dimensions of the device and/or other factors. The applicant must still submit project proposals that are as detailed as possible. It should certainly not be an excuse for an unnecessary degree of flexibility. In particular, care should be taken to ensure that the likely environmental effects, within the defined parameters, are assessed and, where possible, mitigated against. At times, it may be appropriate to consider a ‘worst-case’ scenario to serve as a reference point for mitigating actions.