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Tidal Power: Environmental Impact Assessment

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to publish the strategic environmental assessment of sites for tidal stream generation in English and Welsh waters. (210745)

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is a requirement for all offshore commercial projects that form part of a plan or programme e.g. offshore wind farms. However, in order to design a suitable SEA for commercial marine renewable, adequate knowledge of pre-commercial marine renewables needs to be acquired. There are insufficient data available at present to test different scenarios under an SEA. Therefore, an SEA would be unlikely to provide much helpful information at this stage as it would be very difficult to predict impacts of marine renewable technologies prior to their deployment for demonstration. This position is set out in our “Guidance on Consenting Arrangements in England and Wales for a Pre-Commercial Demonstration Phase for Wave and Tidal Stream Energy Devices (Marine Renewables)” http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/filel5470.pdf . Once sufficient data becomes available from demonstration projects we will review the need to publish an SEA of sites for tidal stream generation. Completion of an SEA will be a pre-condition for the start of any plan or programme for a commercial phase and will be subject to full public consultation.