The Government says it is putting in place the conditions that will allow the UK marine industry to demonstrate and fulfil the renewable energy potential of the seas.

Commenting on the announcement, Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister said: “The UK has a fledgling marine renewable energy industry. This consenting guidance together with the previously announced £50 million package of financial support gives the marine renewables sector an opportunity to develop.”

The initial £50 million Marine Renewables Deployment Fund was pledged last year by Patricia Hewitt during her time at the DTI (see related story).

The DTI has now ring-fenced part of that fund so that £2 million will be used for impact monitoring and research funding over the life of the demonstration projects and up to £6 million for infrastructure projects.

The remaining £42 million will be allocated through a new scheme to support multi-device demonstration projects.

The guidance contains no explicit constraints on site choice, duration and scale of demonstration projects although project-specific EIAs must be produced. However, there will be no need for Strategic Environmental Assessments for the time being.

The DTI believes that the knowledge gained from monitoring and research in the demonstration phase will allow a thorough and more valuable SEA to be conducted prior to a commercial phase.

David Hopkins

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