The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is applying for site-wide Section 36 consent at its grid connected Billia Croo wave test site off the west coast of Orkney, Scotland. 

The Section 36 consent will further streamline the consenting process for EMEC’s clients, reducing the time and cost associated with offshore demonstration.

EMEC’s Section 36 consent application is currently out for consultation, and feedback is invited from stakeholders.

Section 36 consent is required under the Electricity Act 1989 for any developers with a generating capacity of greater than 1MW.

EMEC’s application for a site-wide Section 36 consent at Billia Croo is for a maximum installed generating capacity of 20 MW across the site. The consent will last until 2040, future-proofing the consenting process for clients accessing EMEC’s facilities. 

To support the Section 36 consent application, EMEC contracted Land Use Consultants to complete a Seascape, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and Xodus Group to conduct an Environmental Appraisal assessing the potential environmental impacts that may occur during the installation, operation, maintenance and decommissioning phases of device and infrastructure testing at the Billia Croo test site.

These assessments were focused on an agreed ‘envelope’ of device types and activities that could be deployed within the test site boundaries. The appraisal was supported by specialist expertise from Atlantic Ecology and Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology. 

The Billia Croo Section 36 consent application has been funded by Interreg NWE FORESEA programme.

“In order for developers to deploy marine renewable devices and generate electricity at sea, it is a regulatory requirement to gain statutory consents and marine licences. At present, any technologies with a generating capacity over 1 MW must go through a more arduous consenting process prior to deployment,” explainedd Caitlin Long, EMEC’s Environment and Consents Specialist. “EMEC acquired and implemented a site-wide section 36 consent for our tidal test site at the Fall of Warness in 2016. This enabled Orbital Marine Power and Magallanes Renovables to successfully install 2 MW tidal energy technologies at the site without having to obtain additional consents due to their technologies being rated over 1 MW.

“The success of the site-wide Section 36 at the Fall of Warness site led us to apply for a similar consent for the Billia Croo wave test site.”

Aerial of EMEC Billia Croo wave test site (Credit: Colin Keldie)