Government trims red tape for offshore wind

Companies setting up new offshore windfarms could have a one-stop-shop at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to assist in getting the consents they need.

The announcement was made by Energy Minister Peter Hain on 20 February, which will bypass the current fragmented approach, whereby developers have to

make up to seven different approaches to gain the consent they need. The DTI will now act as a one stop shop, receiving the application, distributing the information to other consenting bodies and managing the whole exercise, the department says.

More specifically the proposals mean that DTI will:

  • clarify with the developers early on what information must be provided;
  • produce a single application form for the offshore consents;
  • gather all other relevant information and distribute it to the correct consenting authority;
  • help to seek solutions to any problems that developers come across as they try to gain consent.

“The proposals I have published today will smooth the path for new offshore wind farms in England and Wales,” Hain said. “This one-stop-shop will not only make the consents process more streamlined and transparent, it will also provide a guiding hand for developers. The Government is doing everything it can to help industry meet its target of supplying 10% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010 (see related story), including encouraging a significant capacity of offshore windfarms. Our one-stop-shop emphasises our commitment to boosting this important new source of green energy while at the same time ensuring that the effect on the environment is properly assessed and that local views are fully considered.”

On top of the DTI aanouncement, the government has allocated a total of £89 million available in the form of capital grants for demonstration projects including offshore wind, and the UK recently opened its first offshore wind farm, also the world’s biggest (see related story).

The outlined approach would bring all commercial offshore wind and water driven generating stations in England and Wales within the scope of the DTI’s responsibility for power station consents under section 36 of the 1989 Electricity Act.

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