On the 18 February 2016 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued a new Marine Guidance Note related to Safety of Navigation (MGN 543 (M+F)) for Offshore Renewable Energy Installations ("OREIs"). The guidance note should be used primarily by offshore renewable energy installation developers seeking consent to undertake marine works (through a marine licence or Development Consent Order ("DCO")). It replaces MGN 371 and applies to proposals in UK internal waters, Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone; containing guidance on UK Navigational Practice, Safety and Emergency Response.

The guidance note highlights issues that need to be taken into account when assessing the impact on navigational safety and emergency response (search and rescue, salvage and towing, and counter pollution) caused by offshore renewable energy developments.

The guidance within MGN 543 (M+F) is not mandatory. However, failure to accept the principles of the guidance may result in delays or objections from stakeholders during the consenting process. The recommendations should be taken into account in the preparation of Scoping Reports ("SR"), Environmental Impact Assessments ("EIA") and resulting Environmental Statements ("ES") as well as in any required post-consent documents.

The guidance note applies to development sites located within the jurisdiction of port / harbour limits, as well as those in the open sea. Where development sites are situated within harbour limits, developers are also likely to be required to comply with the harbour authority's local regulations and directions and / or specific criteria. In addition the harbour authority will be under a duty to review its safety management system ("SMS") following the issue of consent for a development within port / harbour limits which could affect navigation, or emergency planning, or response.

The Annexes to MGN 543 (M+F) contain recommendations and guidance on the following topics:

  • Annex 1: Considerations on site position, structures and safety zones.
  • Annex 2: Navigation, collision avoidance and communications.
  • Annex 3: MCA Shipping template, assessing wind farm boundary distances from shipping routes.
  • Annex 4: Safety and mitigation measures recommended for OREI during construction, operation and decommissioning.
  • Annex 5: Standards, procedures and operational requirements in event of a search and rescue, counter pollution or salvage and/or towing incident in or around an OREI, including generator / installation shutdown.

MGN 543 (M+F) should be read in conjunction with:

  • Marine Guidance Note "Offshore Renewable Energy Installations ("OREIs") - Guidance to Mariners operating in the vicinity of UK OREIs"; and
  • "Methodology for Assessing the Marine Navigational Safety Risks & Emergency Response of Offshore Renewable Energy Installations".

A full copy of MGN 543 (M+F) can be accessed here