Government earmarks East Coast marine areas for tidal stream energy

Priority for tidal energy development off Suffolk, Norfolk and East Yorkshire coastlines

The REA welcomes the Government's East Marine Plans, approved by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and published yesterday by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) [1]. The Inshore and Offshore East Marine Plans are the first two of 11 Marine Plans the Government intends to complete by 2021. These will eventually set planning guidance for sustainable development in all English coastal waters.

The East Marine Plans designate several areas of high tidal stream resource off the East Yorkshire, Suffolk, and especially Norfolk coastlines where tidal energy development will be prioritised. Other developments in these areas will have to be justified to the MMO, and any adverse impacts on tidal energy development minimised or mitigated. The REA has played a key role in ensuring that wave and tidal energy is supported under the Marine Plans programme.

REA Head of Marine Renewables Dr Steph Merry said:

"We have been working hard to highlight to Government the non-financial barriers to wave and tidal energy in UK waters. These provide opportunities for cost-effective policy measures that will support this nascent green industry at minimal cost to the taxpayer. The kind of excellent support the MMO has demonstrated is very much needed if we are to preserve our world-leading position on wave and tidal energy."

The Crown Estate has also demonstrated leadership in developing practical measures to boost the marine energy industry, such as funding open access wildlife surveys for the benefit of the sector as a whole, reducing the burden on developers to fund their own surveys duplicating those of their competitors. The REA has also called for similar cost-effective, practical measures [2], such as:

Assuring support for wave and tidal in the Government's EMR programme, via guaranteed capacity in the Contracts for Difference scheme

Providing all projects equal access to the grid at a reasonable rate

Ensuring the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult programme for the sector is effective

Joint procurement and installation

Green Investment Bank involvement

Dr Steph Merry continued:

"The number one issue for the marine sector is ensuring there is room for growth for wave and tidal energy under the new Contracts for Difference scheme – for instance, by setting minimum deployment thresholds. It is vital that developers can access State support in order to get over the commercialisation hurdle, scale up development, create more jobs and further bring down the technology costs."

The East Marine Plans cover the coast and seas from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe, with a major area earmarked for tidal energy development off the Norfolk coast near Great Yarmouth. They also contain similar policies for offshore wind. The next Marine Plan will cover the South Coast, from Folkestone to Dartmouth. The REA will continue to engage with the MMO to ensure that all future Marine Plans also support the UK's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost energy security with marine renewable energy.

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