The Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee has completed a snapshot assessment. marine environment management.
It is Report on the Welsh Governments Marine PoliciesThis week, Plenary will debate the matter.
This article provides a brief overview on the issues that the Committee addresses.
The offshore development of renewable energy in the Welsh seas is expanding rapidly. The Welsh Government stated that:
To ensure sustainable growth of the marine sector, it is vital to have effective marine planning.
However, Stakeholders sayThe Welsh National Marine Plan(WNMP) is not suitable for this purpose at the moment, as it lacks a spatial element or development control policies. cumulative impactsDevelopments
It is important to consider the environment when developing marine energy projects. The evidence was heard by the Committee throughout. . The Marine Conservation Society (MCS).) cautions:
We cannot allow the need to use marine renewable energy in Wales to worsen the current nature emergency.
The WNMP is due for publication Reviewed before November 20,22Stakeholders believe this is a chance to address these issues. The Committee had recommendedTo inform the review, the Welsh Government should commission an outside analysis of WNMP. The Welsh Government agreesto this approach, but for 2025’s next review.
Marine renewable energy
The Welsh Government has Committed toSupport innovation in renewable energy technology. Stakeholders sayThis will be crucial for a green economic recovery. The Wales marine environment offers many opportunities for renewable energy.
Tidal energy can take two forms:
- Tidal streamTechnologies harness the energy of currents to generate turbines;
- Tidal rangeTechnologies harness the potential energy of a high tide, which is the difference between low and high tides (the head)
Most projects involving the tidal range include the construction of large-scale lagoons, or barrages that hold and release the incoming tide. pathfinder tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay.
The most recent publication Net Zero Wales PlanIt includes a commitment that the Welsh Government will:
Develop a Tidal Lakeon Challenge, providing solid evidence about the viability and potential support for a project in Welsh waters that can demonstrate sustainability in accordance with WNMP policies and objectives.
Wave energy technologies harness kinetic energy from water’s movement. Pembrokeshire has Wales has the highest wave resourcesThe is the home of the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). This site has the potential for three wave energy arrays of up to 30MW each, as well as a pre-commercial 90MW floating turbine demonstration project.
Use the seabed
The Crown EstateLeases are used to grant rights to the seabed. Our most recent article Who owns the seabed? Why is it important, examines Crown Estates role in developing Welsh marine energy sources.
The Co-operation AgreementSupports the devolution of management of the Crown Estate in Wales and its assets. The The Welsh Government has taken the following steps: A meeting would be held with the Crown Estate to discuss the technical paper that would examine the implications of devolution.
Consenting to and licensing
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) delivers Marine licensingWelsh Minsters. The Welsh GovernmentIs the enforcement authority for marine licencing.
The Consent process and the consenting authorityThe requirements for marine renewable energy projects vary depending on the size of the project and the applicable legislation. Stakeholders spoke to the CommitteeConsenting can be slow and difficult. In December 2021, the Deep dive by Deputy Ministers on Renewable Energy PolicyThe committee recommended that an end-to–end review of the marine licensing and consenting processes be conducted. This is currently taking place.
Evidence gaps and gathering
The State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR) 2020Evaluation of the Welsh inshore areaThis is what we found:
There are There are many evidence gapsIt has many social, economic, and environmental uses that benefit the marine environment. Our ability to do so is limitedTo ensure sustainable management of marine natural resource.
There were significant gaps in the marine evidence collection. All who gave evidence were invited to speak on the matter., and Committee heardHow developers can contribute to the reduction of marine evidence gaps The Welsh GovernmentIt will be looking at how to best address any barriers to data sharing.
Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Area (MPA), is a collective term that refers to all protected nature conservation sites within the marine environment. More information can be found at our MPA research briefing.
NRW stands forDeveloping new indicators for reporting, to ensure it gives the best advice and assessments to help with decision-making in relation to activities in and near MPAs. The Committee was informed however that Without additional resourcesThis will take longer to complete.
The Welsh GovernmentIt is looking into funding avenues for this type of work, including the Nature Networks Programme.
How to turn the tide
The previous Senedds Climate Change Environment and Rural Affairs Committee (CCERA) conducted an inquiry into MPA management in 2017. How to turn the tideThey added to it with Follow up workIn 2019, to assess the progress made against their recommendations, and the Welsh Government’s MPA plan.
However, CCERA Recommendations by the committeeInformation regarding identification Designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) remain unaddressed.
The Recognizes the Welsh GovernmentWe regret the delay in this project and expect the next phase to be launched in the next few months.
Assessing Welsh Fishing Activities
NRW works in partnership with the Welsh Government to address the Assessment of Welsh Fishing Activities, Comprehensive approach to evaluating all commercial fishing activitiesin Welsh waters and its interaction to MPA features.
The Committee askedFor clarity and timeline information, please refer to the following: The Welsh GovernmentThe final assessments will be completed by summer 2022. Consultation times will also be established along with other priorities.
Welsh seas include seagrass, saltmarsh or seaweed blue carbonHabitats that extend over 99km2The Welsh MPA network. Blue carbon refers to Carbon sequesteredBy vegetated coastal and maritime ecosystems.
Our Research briefing blue carbonThis provides a complete background, an overview of all the marine habitats that have blue carbon, their locations, and the various species they belong to. Dangers They face.
A July 2020 Report Estimating the Carbon Sink Potential of the Welsh Marine EnvironmentNRW prepared the following report. It found that a lot carbon is already stored in Welsh marine sediments. This accounts for almost 170% in the carbon in Welsh forests.
The ocean’s carbon-storing capacity is highlighted It is crucial to reach the goal of becoming Net-zero by 2050.
The The Committee believesWe should explore further the possibilities for how blue-carbon habitats in Wales could be preserved and enhanced. The following are the recommendations. Welsh GovernmentIt is currently working on a shared blue-carbon evidence program and will review a blue carbon recovery strategy once the evidence base is more established.
Article by Lorna Scurlock, Senedd Research. Welsh Parliament