Memorandum submitted by The Crown Estate (NPS 70)

 

Summary

 

We welcome the draft NPS and the opportunity to comment upon them. National Policy Statements EN-1 and EN-3 are particularly important for clearly establishing the case for the need for new offshore renewables development. In our view these documents clearly articulate the need for further renewables development and outline the issues that the IPC will need to consider when making decisions. We identify in our submission some areas where greater clarity may be provided.

We particularly welcome the inclusion of text explaining the role of The Crown Estate and the importance of Round 3. In our view these sections provide important contextual information to assist the IPC to understand the nature of the applications that will be brought forward under this round of offshore wind farm development.

The Crown Estate can bring to bear a high level of knowledge and expertise on issues relating to management of the foreshore, the territorial seabed and continental shelf, and we are committed to working with Government and all stakeholders on issues which affect these areas. Our Marine Estate comprises virtually the entire UK seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, in addition to the sovereign rights to explore and make use of the natural resources of the UK continental shelf, with the exception of oil, coal and gas. We own approximately 55 per cent of the foreshore and around half the beds of estuaries and tidal rivers in the United Kingdom.

 


Introduction and context

The Crown Estate welcomes the publication of the National Policy Statements on Energy and is grateful for the opportunity to provide these comments. This response is informed by The Crown Estate's extensive experience of managing activities within the marine environment and, within its core remit, of balancing economic activity with stewardship of natural resources for future generations to use and enjoy. We are committed to working with government departments, stakeholders and industry in helping to manage the coastal and marine environment.

The Crown Estate can bring to bear an unparalleled level of knowledge and expertise on issues relating to management of the foreshore, the territorial seabed and continental shelf. This knowledge includes marine resource management (e.g. marine aggregate extraction, marine renewable energy installations, seabed infrastructure, aquaculture and new activities such as gas storage and carbon capture and storage) and its interplay with other marine activities such as defence, energy, navigation and marine safety. We have a strong understanding of the needs of a broad range of sea users, as commercial partners, customers and stakeholders.

 

General comments

Round 3 will play a strategically important role in the achievement of renewables targets (and therefore to greenhouse gas reduction targets).

The planning regime established in the Planning Act (2008) requires that proposals for offshore wind farms of 100MW and above are treated as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). In practice we expect that this will include most, if not all, wind farms that will be brought forward under the Round 3 programme along with any proposed extensions to existing Round 1 and 2 offshore wind farm sites where the aggregate capacity of the original site and the extension together exceeds 100MW. Consequently it is easy to envisage anything between 40 - 70 applications being made to the IPC for offshore wind farms under these programmes. The combined capacity of these applications is likely to exceed 25GW and given the timeframe within which it is proposed that wind farms become operational (ie by 2020) it is likely that the majority of these applications will be made between 2012 and 2016.

It is critically important, therefore, that the Energy National Policy Statements (NPS) clearly and unambiguously establish the needs case and the issues which the IPC should have regard to in making its decisions.

On this basis we welcome the publication of the draft Overarching NPS for Energy (EN-1), the draft NPS for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3) and the draft NPS for Energy Networks Infrastructure (EN-5). It is our view that these documents do broadly establish the needs case for offshore renewables infrastructure and the transmission networks required and provide useful guidance for the IPC in its decision-making. We identify areas below where further clarity would be helpful.

Draft Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1)

NPS EN-1 correctly emphasises the essential contribution offshore renewables is expected to make to:

Low-carbon energy generation

Security of supply

Diversity of supply

Whilst there is a clear statement in Section 3.7.1 of EN-1 that there is a significant need for all types of electricity generation to meet these aims, the NPS would benefit from a clearer statement about the quantum of offshore renewable energy development required to meet renewables and greenhouse gas reduction targets. Although Sections 3.3.14 - 3.3.15 and Section 3.4.4 do provide some details of the scale of renewable energy development that might be expected, the consideration of various scenarios does not lead to a clear and unambiguous understanding of the scale of development required. We believe it would be desirable to provide a clearer statement that Round 3, along with extensions to Round 1 and 2 sites, is expected to result in 25GW or more of new applications and that there is a significant need for this development.

In Section 4.19.18, EN-1 helpfully highlights the role that Grampian conditions might play in ensuring that potential impacts on Civil and Military Aviation and Defence Interests are mitigated. Grampian conditions are a useful device, where there is uncertainty about the scale of mitigation that might be required in a particular circumstance, and their potential use extends beyond aviation interests. It is suggested, therefore, that the NPS provides a more general statement about the potential applicability of Grampian conditions (along with other mechanism such as "Rochdale envelopes") as a means of managing uncertainty.

EN-1 (and EN-3) makes little reference to the potential for trans-boundary effects. Although the need for any consultation with the devolved administrations and governments of neighbour states, where the potential for trans-boundary effects arises, can be addressed through relevant EIA Regulations and guidance, it would be useful to be clarify in the NPS the circumstances in which the IPC might reasonably expect such consultation to have taken place.

Section 4.18.12 foreshadows the designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). In light of the enactment of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) and plans for MCZ designation, this section could now provide more clarity on the weight that areas with this designation should be given in the planning decision. It would be useful to make specific reference to the importance of the conservation objectives of these areas as the basis on which a judgement of any likely significant effect is to be made.

Section 4.8.20 (and elsewhere) makes reference to the role of Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales. Reference should also be made to the role of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) as the Statutory Nature Conservation Agency for areas outside of territorial waters.

The Crown Estate is actively working with stakeholders to identify potential impacts to the environment and other sea users arising from the development of offshore renewables. In some cases it may be possible to identify and agree solutions to these potential effects, including, for example:

Approaches to the analysis and interpretation of data

Project design

Design of mitigation

To the extent that these wider industry agreements and approaches are relevant to applications and are supported by relevant consultees, then we would urge the IPC to take them into consideration when making decisions.

The need for monitoring of consented projects is foreshadowed in Section 2.6.51 - 2.6.52. Monitoring is most effective when it is targeted to specific issues arising from EIA and Habitats Regulations Assessment. On this basis we suggest that this section emphasise the importance of identifying monitoring requirements that are proportionate and relevant to issues arising from the assessment process.

Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3)

We warmly welcome the inclusion in EN-3 of the text explaining the role of The Crown Estate and the approach that has been taken to the leasing of Round 3 wind farms. This is important contextual information for the IPC, particularly as the very large majority of the foreseeable future applications for offshore wind farms will arise under the Round 3 programme. In this respect it is important for the IPC to be aware of the zonal approach to site selection, and the (potentially extensive) zonal appraisal and planning activities that developers may have undertaken prior to site selection and project application. Failure to include this type of contextual information may lead to confusion about the zonal approach and a lack of understanding about how Round 3 differs fundamentally from previous leasing rounds.

Section 1.2.5 discusses the role of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), in light of the recent enactment of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) we suggest that, to the extent possible, those sections relating to the MMO are updated and expanded in light of the current understanding of its role.

Conclusion

We trust that you will find these comments constructive. We would be very willing to provide additional information on any of the points we have raised above and be very pleased to discuss these matters with you further. We are ready to engage in further discussions on these and other points relevant to our ownership or which our expertise may be brought to bear. All of this response may be put into the public domain and there is no part of it that should be treated as confidential.

 

January 2010

 

 

 


The Crown Estate

 

The diverse portfolio of The Crown Estate comprises marine, rural and urban properties across the whole of the United Kingdom valued in total at over 7 billion (2006/07 figures). Under the 1961 Crown Estate Act, The Crown Estate is charged with maintaining and enhancing both the value of the property and the revenue from it consistent with the requirements of good management. We are a commercial organisation guided by our core values of commercialism, integrity and stewardship.

 

The Crown Estate's entire revenue surplus is paid directly to HM Treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers; in 2006/07 this amounted to around 200 million.

 

The Marine Estate

 

Our Marine Estate comprises virtually the entire UK seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, in addition to the sovereign rights to explore and make use of the natural resources of the UK continental shelf, with the exception of oil, coal and gas. We own approximately 55 per cent of the foreshore and around half the beds of estuaries and tidal rivers in the United Kingdom. A wide variety of businesses and organisations conduct economic and conservation activities across our Marine Estate, with an estimated total value of some 46 billion providing almost 890,000 jobs. Over 20% of our coastal estate is leased out to conservation bodies.

 

The Crown Estate manages its marine assets on a commercial basis, guided by the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility. We take a consistent approach to the management of our activities around the UK, whilst retaining flexibility to take local factors into account whenever necessary. The Crown Estate can bring to bear an unparalleled level of knowledge and expertise on issues relating to management of the foreshore, the territorial seabed and continental shelf. We have a strong understanding of the needs of a broad range of sea users, as commercial partners, customers and stakeholders.