This is a sponsored article as part of our MEW Annual Conference
The Irish and Celtic Seas are set to be an exciting and valuable growth area for marine renewable energy, in particular offshore wind. As the complexity and number of projects in each offshore area increases, so do the challenges associated with local consenting.
The consenting route for an offshore renewable project and its associated onshore infrastructure in these regions is complex. Depending on the scale (MW) of the project and whether and what components of the offshore wind farm are wholly within Welsh inshore or offshore waters, wholly within English waters or straddling Welsh/English waters, there are different authorities with consenting powers. These can include the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers, Natural Resource Wales, the Marine Management Organisation and Local Planning Authorities. This complexity is reflected in Welsh Government guidance for projects that span Welsh and English waters in this detailed infographic; and also PINS Advice Note 11 (Annex A – Natural Resources Wales).
As the Welsh offshore wind industry continues to mature rapidly, there is an even greater need for a clear and consistent consenting approach. Working with the right partner to help navigate these complex regulatory requirements is essential. RPS’ extensive offshore wind experience includes 20 years at the forefront of the industry, working across the UK, Europe, America, and Asia Pacific. We’ve supported both floating and fixed foundation offshore wind projects, and we have deep experience in the provision of technical consultancy and operational support for the energy sector.
Our extensive team, based in Wales and the SW, understand the need to work together, with the local regulatory regimes, local stakeholders, and partners, to smoothly deliver successful outcomes for developers. The breadth of experience of our regulatory and subject matter experts facilitates knowledge transfer through the lessons we’ve learned in each market – ensuring the latest innovations, R&D, and scientific understanding enables detailed discussion with each of these authorities and interested parties before any conclusions are drawn and the right technical solution(s) applied.
We employ some of the world’s best offshore talent, with deep local and international expertise to deliver confident, reliable, pragmatic solutions to avoid permitting and regulatory bottlenecks. We understand there are, and will continue to be, many competing resource needs of the regulatory agencies and for developers. RPS continues to grow to meet our clients’ needs – to ensure the best and most knowledgeable experts in the field are available to move the process of developing offshore wind projects forward, at pace, to meet future demand.
About our team
RPS is an established local consultancy with specialist regulatory and subject matter knowledge and experience of working in complex marine environments. Our team has a deep understanding of these consenting regimes to successfully navigate them and deliver projects in the region to support the long-term sustainability of the industry.
Based in Chepstow, Cardiff and Bristol, our teams have undertaken several offshore wind and marine renewable projects in the Irish and Celtic Seas. We are currently delivering the EIA and HRA for the Mona (and Morgan) offshore wind farm projects for the bp and EnBW consortium in the Irish Sea; and in South Wales we recently delivered the EIA, planning and consent applications required for both the Pembroke Dock Infrastructure and the Marine Energy Testing Area (META) projects – two of the four pillars of the Pembroke Dock Marine collaborative project, to support the development of the marine energy industry in Wales. We were also previously the EIA lead for the Atlantic Array wind farm for RWE and Ormonde wind farm for Vattenfall.
RPS has an excellent understanding of offshore wind in the Irish Sea and has worked under the DCO system and Welsh marine licensing through NRW-MLT. As a result, our team has excellent relationships with local stakeholders and interested parties, and of the data associated with the offshore environment in the area, as well as excellent knowledge of the onshore environment through our work on the onshore elements of these projects.