The META Project, Pembrokeshire – Marine Licence Consent
RPS is delighted to have supported Marine Energy Wales (MEW) through the consenting process to obtain a Marine Licence for the META Project Phase 2, which was awarded consent on 15
th December 2020.
The UK Government in the Energy Challenge Energy Review Report 2006 set targets for achieving 20% of electricity coming from renewable resources by 2020, and it is estimated that wave and tidal stream energy has the potential to meet up to 20% of the UK’s current electricity demand. The META project test site will support these goals by acting as a stepping-stone to full scale device development and deployment.
The Marine Energy Wales META (Marine Energy Test Area) project aims to provide a series of pre-consented, non-grid connected, marine energy test areas that will allow for the deployment and testing of marine energy devices, components and subassemblies in support of marine energy testing (wave, tidal and floating offshore wind components). This will de-risk marine energy projects prior to larger scale or array deployments in higher energy environments, which is a key step in device and project development.
The META project supports the Welsh National Marine Plan’s (WNMP) key objective of achieving a sustainable marine economy, helping to achieve the UK’s energy security and carbon reductions, and supporting ambitions for the UK to continue to play a leading global role in marine renewable energy.
The META project comprises eight test sites within and in proximity to the Milford Haven Waterway. META Phase 2 comprises three of these sites. One of the key challenges of the project was developing a project design envelope to allow for flexibility in testing scenarios to support a range of potential device developer needs, whilst supporting multiple consent applications through the production of a proportionate EIA. META Phase 2 was also subject to a complex consenting environment including multiple marine regulatory regimes, a change in regulatory jurisdiction part way through the consenting process and a quirk in the planning boundaries meaning that planning permission for one of the sites was also required.
The remaining five sites were included in META Phase 1 as these were within the Milford Haven Port area where the consenting environment was more straightforward, and the testing activities proposed were more restricted in nature and scale, with only scaled devices, subassemblies or components proposed.
Now that consent is in place for Phase 2, MEW will be working alongside developers to commence device deployment and testing – an important step in Wales’ ambitions for the development of marine renewable energy resources.
RPS were the Lead EIA and Consents Consultant for the META project. We undertook the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and provided consenting support to MEW during the pre-consenting phase and determination phases of the META project.
We worked with our client to develop a project design envelope that allowed flexibility in testing activities and device design, whilst allowing the production of a proportionate Environmental Statement, Water Framework Directive Assessment and report to inform Appropriate Assessment. Ourselves and the META team held a series of workshops with developers and stakeholders to obtain feedback and develop this project design envelope.
We provided most of the consenting and environmental requirements of the META project from our in-house team with support of Hardisty Jones Associates for the socio-economic assessment and Marico Marine for the Navigational Risk Assessment (NRA). We provided input and advice to MEW in navigating the changing marine regulatory regime and engaging with consenting authorities and were able to draw on our Welsh planning team to deliver the planning permission application when this need was identified. RPS also developed an Ecological Management and Mitigation Plan, an Environmental Management Plan and an Invasive Non-native Species Management Plan which will minimise risk to the environment whilst ensuring developer compliance with consent conditions and monitoring requirements. These have been designed to facilitate ease of use and understanding by all parties, regardless of device type, location or scale of testing.
RPS also supported Phase 1 of the META project through the development of a project description envelope. This in turn informed the production of an Environmental Report to support Phase 1 consent applications. Consent for Phase 1 was awarded in June 2019 (10/06/2019). RPS also continue to support META’s sister project; the Pembroke Dock Marine, Pembroke Port Infrastructure Development through the planning, marine licensing and accompanying EIA.