45. Many renewable energy technologies in the UK,
including wave and tidal energy companies, have experienced extremely
lengthy, and costly, planning procedures to obtain consent for
the siting of their devices. Wind farms have faced similar problems,
but the difficulties for marine devices are even greater owing
to the number of authorities concerned, both at sea and on the
(The authorities could include county, district and local councils,
wildlife trusts, DETR, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food (MAFF), Ports Division, Coast Guard, Crown Commissioners,
the Ministry of Defence (MoD), local ports and pilotage officers,
and groups such as local fishermen.) Wavegen estimated that it
took at least 18 months to obtain all the necessary consents to
put a device under the sea. While it is important that the environmental
impact and effect upon adjacent communities are fully assessed,
such additional penalties in time and money that obtaining consent
incurs are an added burden, which an immature industry cannot
46. The Government has begun to recognise this problem,
and the DTI recently issued a consultation paper on the Government's
proposals for streamlining the consents procedure.
While it was disappointing that "water driven generation"
was only given a fleeting reference in the press statement, the
Minister confirmed that the proposals were also aimed to help
wave and tidal energy schemes.
We welcome the Government's decision to consult on the establishment
of a 'one stop shop' for offshore renewable planning applications,
and would urge it to act upon its findings as soon as possible.
47. While providing a clean, reliable source of energy,
the installation of any artificial device into the environment
will affect it in some ways. A number of concerns have been raised
about the environmental impacts of wave and tidal devices. Among
the most important of these are:
- Effect on marine life.
Concerns have been raised about the danger to marine animals,
such as seals and fish, from wave and tidal devices.
We have had no evidence that this is a significant problem. Such
devices may actually benefit the local fauna by creating non-fishing
'havens' and structures such as anchoring devices may create new
reefs for fish colonisation.
- Effect on the sea and sea bed.
By altering wave patterns and tidal streams, devices will undoubtedly
have an effect, for example, upon the deposition of sediment.
Research carried out to date would seem to indicate that the effects
would not be significant, and may even be positive, for example
by helping to slow down coastal erosion. (This is particularly
pertinent in light of evidence that waves have steadily increased
in size in the recent past.)
The sea in the lee of devices would almost certainly be calmer
than normal, but, it has been suggested, this would help in creating
more areas for activities such as water sports or yachting.
- Effect on local landscape.
Most wave and tidal energy devices would be invisible from the
shore. They would have none of the problems of visual and noise
pollution that older versions of wind turbines engender. The main
impact would probably be from the extensive transmission lines
needed to take the energy from the shoreline to final users.
As many of the best sites for tidal energy, in particular, are
near Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSIs), this problem
would have to be addressed, possibly by using underground transmission
- Effect on fishing and shipping activities.
Offshore wave and tidal devices would almost certainly require
areas to be closed to fishing and shipping activities. The siting
of such devices would have to be negotiated, therefore, with relevant
local groups (for example, fishermen), as well as with national
and international bodies.
48. The environmental impacts of any energy scheme
should be considered carefully. More research should be funded
to explore more fully the potential effects of the installation
of wave and tidal devices, and greater consultation carried out
with affected bodies and communities. Any local impact, however,
should be balanced against the global effect of continued reliance
on fossil fuel sources of energy: for every 1% increase in market
share by a renewable technology, there is a 2% reduction in carbon
dioxide emissions. Notably, wave and tidal energy is supported
by bodies such as Greenpeace.
The adverse environmental impact of wave and tidal energy devices
is minimal and far less than that of nearly any other source of
energy, but further research is required to establish the effect
of real installations.
84 Evidence, p 114, paragraph 3.6. Also: evidence,
p 90. Back
The discount rate is the annual percentage rate at which the present
value of a future pound is assumed to fall away through time.
It is used to compare quantities which are distributed over time
by converting them to a present value. See: Appraisal and
Evaluation in Central Government ("The Green Book"),
HM Treasury, 2nd Edition, 1997, pages 24-27, and 97. Back
Thorpe, Q 71. Also see: New and Renewable Energy: Prospects
for the 21st Century - Supporting Analysis, DTI,
page 157, paragraph 3.3. Back
Sustainability through diversity: Prospects for the UK Oil
and Gas Suppliers Industry, Pilot, DTI, April 2001, pp 7-10. Back
Evidence, p 52, paragraph 18. Back
Evidence, p 53, paragraph 18. Back
Evidence, p 108. Back
Salter, Q 88; Thorpe, Q 90; Martin, Q 123; Thomson, Q 166; and
Fraenkel Q 168. Back
The Renewables Obligation Preliminary Consultation: Analysis
of the Responses to the Consultation Paper, DTI, March 2001,
page 11. Back
Fraenkel, Q 147. Back
DTI Press Notice: Hain trims red tape for offshore windfarms,
20th February 2001, P/2001/91. Back
Hain, Qq 252-57. See also: HL Paper 78-I, paragraphs 215-18. Back
Evidence, p 86, pp 25-6. Back
Evidence, p 6, paragraph 45; p 19; p 49, paragraph s 43-47; p
114, paragraph 3.6; and p 132, paragraph 6. Back
Evidence p 120, paragraph 12. Back
Van Hoof R. W., Trends in Wave Climate of the Atlantic and
North Sea: Evidence and Implications, Underwater Technology,
volume 19, number 4, Winter 1993-94. Back
Evidence, p 6, paragraph 44; p 25; and p 152, paragraph 15. Back
Evidence, p 94, paragraph 6, and p 110, paragraph 10. Back
Evidence, p 9. Back
See also: evidence p 120, paragraph 12; and p 160, paragraph