The Environment and the Consenting Process
Environmental impacts have had an important influence in the design of the MeyGen project. The following section describes the process MeyGen has been through to ensure that the impacts of the project are fully assessed as part of the consenting process.
Consenting and Planning Application Process
MeyGen has submitted consent applications for the offshore works to Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team under Section 36 of The Electricity Act 1989 and Section 25 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. Two planning applications under Section 28 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 have also been submitted to The Highland Council for the onshore works.
As part of this process an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) has been undertaken to assess the likely impacts of the project on the natural and human environment.
The geographical scope of the EIA included the entire development from the offshore tidal turbine array through to the substation connecting into the national electricity grid.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The EIA process identifies the areas of a project or development where significant environmental effects may occur and outlines mitigation measures or management techniques aimed at reducing or offsetting these effects. The purpose of the EIA process is to identify likely significant effects, integrate environmental considerations into the project planning and design activities in order to achieve a high standard of environmental performance for the project and to consult with stakeholders and address their concerns.
The Environmental Statement (ES) details the findings of the EIA process and provides explanations on how conclusions were reached. Recommendations for an appropriate environmental management plan and a proposed environmental monitoring strategy are also included. The Environmental Statement or a shorter ‘Non-Technical Summary’ are available to download here.
The MeyGen project was first conceived on an initial visit to the Pentland Firth in April 2006. Since then, MeyGen Ltd. has made numerous trips to the area and has held meetings with local stakeholders, statutory and non-statutory bodies.
Throughout the EIA, MeyGen has continued dialogue with interested parties to seek guidance on aspects of the assessment and to update them on progress to ensure that process is robust as possible.
When the consent and planning applications were made there was a statutory consultation period where the general public and stakeholders were invited to comment on the applications. This period has now closed and MeyGen are working through the representations to ensure that queries are answered as best as possible before the applications can be determined by the respective consenting authority.
The EIA and consenting processes of the prototype devices installed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) have been an excellent learning experience for both the company and the consenting departments involved.
The MeyGen team and the project’s turbine suppliers have managed the consenting process for numerous renewable energy projects, including:-
- ARC, AK1000™ tidal turbine, EMEC
- Andritz Hydro Hammerfest HS100 tidal turbine, EMEC
- ARC, San Remo test site, Melbourne, Australia
- Andritz Hydro Hammerfest HS300 tidal turbine, Kvalsund, Norway
- 172MW Offshore Wind Farm, Gunflleet Sands, UK