Draft Regional Environmental Assessment Consultation

August 19th, 2010 by Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission

In October 2009 the Shadow Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission (GREC) published a draft scoping report for the Regional Environmental Assessment (REA). The comments received from the subsequent consultation were incorporated into the scoping report that was published in February 2010. This report identified the study area and the work required for the production of the REA.

The REA is now published in draft form (26 MB zip file) for consultation. It is a strategic technical assessment of the potential environmental impacts (positive and negative) that could result from the development of marine renewable energy in Guernsey and Sark territorial waters. The document runs to about five hundred pages and therefore a Non Technical Summary (NTS) has also been produced. This explains the purpose and results of the REA in an easy to read format for the general reader. Both of these documents and the scoping report are available to download from the internet by following the links on the Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission (GREC) website.

The REA has been produced on behalf of GREC by the Guernsey Renewable Energy Forum (GREF). Members of GREF have a wide range of technical expertise, including local specialists in navigation, cabling, archaeology, fisheries (both commercial and leisure), ecology, cetaceans and ornithology, but specialists have also been brought in from the UK to assist where necessary. This strategic study has established the likely environmental impacts associated with the deployment of Marine Renewable Energy devices in the seas around Guernsey and Sark. With this knowledge, GREC will be able to ensure that the deployment of renewable energy devices and the associated cable connections will not have an unacceptable adverse effect on wildlife or on the coastline and seas around our shores.

The Chairman of GREF who is also a member of the shadow GREC, Professor Nick Day, said, “Guernsey has some of the strongest tidal currents in the world that could potentially provide electricity for our islands and possibly for export too. However, it is essential to investigate the full range of potential impacts, and to engage with the local community to gain their views and support before proceeding any further.

Professor Nick Day said that “this is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the project and to make their views known. However, the research and consultation will not stop here. The REA is intended to be a living document. As knowledge is gained through future studies and surveys the REA will be updated. Another important point is that the REA is not site or device specific. Therefore, any future prospective developer will be required to produce a proposal with a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment that will have to be approved before any development can commence.”

“In addition to receiving views from Islanders, comments are also being invited from renewable energy developers and associated professional bodies. During the course of the consultation the REA is also being peer reviewed by Marine Scotland, the Scottish Government department responsible for licensing developments in the Pentland Firth.”

The Chairman of GREC, Richard Babbé said, “The production of the Regional Environmental Assessment is an essential step on the long road towards developing renewable energy in our territorial waters. We are also working on all the necessary legal powers for licensing development so that it can be undertaken in an appropriate and measured way. However, it should be realised that these are ‘early days’ and nothing will happen immediately. It is hoped that we will be in a position to invite interest from potential developers for specific sites in 2012 but it may be 2015 or beyond before commercially viable devices are ready to be deployed in our waters.

“It is important that Guernsey is ready and able to benefit from these new technologies when they become commercially available and can produce electricity at a commercially acceptable price. It is likely that the cost of oil (and therefore all energy) is going to increase considerably in future decades and Guernsey will benefit from having its own source of dependable, secure energy generation both for our own domestic use and for export.”

The Minister for Commerce and Employment, Deputy Carla McNulty Bauer said, “Tackling climate change is a key challenge facing our generation. Here in the Channel Islands, maintaining security of energy supply is also very important for our people and industry. It is likely that the development of marine renewable energy devices will also bring opportunities for employment and other economic and social benefits.

“The publication of the Draft Regional Environmental Assessment (26 MB zip file) is a significant step in the preparation to harness the energy from our marine resources and my Board acknowledges with appreciation the amount of work that has been undertaken by the members of GREF and the shadow Commission.”

The Minister for Commerce and Employment continued, “We need to provide the right environmental and planning framework in order to fully benefit from the opportunities that are presented to us. By reading and responding to the consultation you will be helping us to put in place policies for the next decade and beyond.”

The consultation will run for six weeks.

Responses may be made in writing to:

REA Consultaion

Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission

Raymond Falla House

St. Martins

Guernsey

GY1 6AF

Or by email to: [email protected]

The closing date for responses will be Friday 10th September.

Background information

The States of Guernsey has established the shadow Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission (GREC) to promote and control the development of renewable energy projects in the seas around Guernsey. At the outset it was recognised that it is important to balance the potential benefits of using our marine resources to generate renewable energy with the implications this may have on the environment and other sea users. To take into account the interests of all stakeholders GREC has established a forum called the Guernsey Renewable Energy Forum (GREF) whose aim is to consult with marine user groups on environmental issues.

The GREC was set up by the States of Guernsey Commerce and Employment Department following the States approval of the Policy Council Energy Policy report in June 2008. Billet D’Etat VIII 2008. The members are: Richard Babbé, Chairman, Jeremy Thompson and Nick Day.

GREF has identified organisations and individuals, mainly from within the Bailiwick but also from farther afield, that have specialist knowledge of the marine environment. The group includes, for example, members of the La Société Guernesiaise, fishermen, marine users and ornithologists.

In addition to the areas covered by the REA, a computer-based tidal model is being produced by the Robert Gordon University. The model uses existing tidal data to show the direction and speed of the tide throughout the tidal cycle. This information, coupled with the results of the REA, will be used to identify the most suitable zones for generating energy from waves and tidal currents.

The REA is available by following the link on the GREC website. A hard copy of the REA is available for reference at Sir Charles Frossard House, Raymond Falla House and the Guilles Alles Library. There are also a limited number of hard copies of the NTS available at these locations.

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