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Consenting Processes for Ocean Energy on OES Member Countries


This practice presents consenting process for ocean energy in different countries. It focuses on the regulatory and legal situation, stakekholder consultation, the Environmental Impact Assessment. Barriers in the consenting process and ways to address them are identified.

Application in MSP:
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Questions this practice may help answer

  • How do consenting processes for offshore renewable energy work in the countries listed in chapter “Implementation Context”?
  • What are barriers in the consenting process?
  • How can the barriers be eliminated?

Implementation Context

This practice was developed by the Ocean Energy Systems Technology Collaboration Programme (OES), an intergovernmental collaboration between countries, which operates under framework established by the International Energy Agency in Paris. The report contains country specific information on how consenting procedures are implemented for the following countries: Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Monaco, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and the USA.

Aspects / Objectives

This practice aims at

  • Presenting the practice of consenting processes in the countries listed in chapter “Implementation context”
  • Providing guidance for smooth consenting processes


By comparing the country practices on consenting processes, conclusions are drawn on what barriers exist and what are suitable approaches to address them.

Main Outputs / Results

Country information on:

  • Maritime Spatial Planning policies
  • Consenting processes for ocean energy in general (incl. authorities involved as well as legislation and regulations)
  • Requirements regarding Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Requirements regarding stakeholder consultation
  • Provision of guidance and advice
  • Management oft he whole process (one-stop-shop)
  • Existence of pre-consented test centres for easier consenting

Identified barriers that can delay the consenting process:

  • Uncertainties regarding environmental aspects of the projects
  • For novel tidal devices, lack of scientific evidence to show that there will be no negative effect on marine flora and fauna.
  • Public acceptance and extended time of public consultations
  • Governmental permits
  • Judicial/legal rules opposed to practical solutions
  • Lack of a one-stop shop facility
  • Uncertainties and lack of information of the different public agents who have to take decisions
  • Lack of guidance to developers
  • Agreement of residents
  • Maritime safety

Recommendation for smooth consenting processes

Integrated planning

The implementation of strategic plans like MSP and SEA allows a better management of the different marine areas. MSP and SEA maybe considered complementary techniques and thus results should be aligned among each other. Furthermore, and because MSP mostly focuses on current users of the marine space, the plans should be reviewed periodically in order to include forthcoming uses.

Administrative procedures

Ocean energy projects are relatively new both to the public and the regulatory system. As a consequence, long lead-in times for obtaining the necessary permits may arise. Streamlining procedures and providing guidance to device developers are the main recommendations to overcome such issue. The establishment of fixed time frames and deadlines for each licensing step can also be an important measure to deal with licensing process delays.

The implementation of a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach for marine energy consenting is seen by many stakeholders as a measure to minimise administrative problems. However, its full implementation is difficult to achieve in practice and tends to address only the marine environmental elements of projects. Implementing a ‘one-stop-shop’ in certain jurisdictions would be complex given the levels of regulatory amendment required to align different pieces of legislation and the work of different authorities. In such case, well-coordinated procedures should be implemented. Nevertheless, some jurisdictions have already developed such approaches and can inform the development or amendment of procedures in other countries (e.g. the approaches used by the Danish Energy Agency and Marine Scotland).

Environmental impact assessment

The application of the EIA process is not consistent among countries and there is a lack of knowledge on real environmental impacts of ocean energy. Furthermore, there is not enough guidance provided by authorities on EIA requirements and monitoring. It is therefore important to have more information about environmental aspects and regulation, in order to increase awareness and stimulate knowledge transfer in this field. This can be done by creating a public database on monitoring results and conclusions. Another step forward would be to implement a risk-based approach during the decision-making process, like the Survey Deploy and Monitor approach followed in Scotland, and to implement an environmental adaptive management procedure during project’s deployment.


Early stakeholder engagement and informal consultation with local stakeholders are the most important recommendations to overcome potential problems arising from public acceptance of the project. Furthermore, it is also important to carefully plan consultation events considering the target audience and select suitable stakeholder representatives to help build trust. A very important aspect is to provide as much as possible evidence-based information, both scientific and socio-economic and to take into account the needs of different stakeholders. The development of a public database with information on the users of the sea in areas of potential interest for ocean energy developments in each country may be a useful tool for developers.


Readers can be inspired by how other countries organise their consenting processes when establishing / developing their own national processes.

Responsible Entity

Ocean Energy Systems Technology Collaboration Programme (OES)