On 3 March the Department for Energy and Climate Change ("DECC") launched its consultation on its draft plan/programme to enable future offshore renewables leasing and licensing for oil and gas, hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide gas storage - Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment  3 ("OESEA 3").  The consultation closes on 29 April 2016 at 5:00pm

Below is a summary of the key elements of the draft plan/programme, taken from the non-technical summary.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment process aims to help inform licensing and leasing decisions by considering the environmental implications of the proposed plan/programme and the potential activities which could result from their implementation.

OESEA3 is expected to have a 5 year period of currency and is intended to:

  • Consider the environmental implications of DECC’s draft plan/programme to enable further licensing/leasing for offshore energy (oil and gas, hydrocarbon gas storage, carbon dioxide storage and marine renewables including wind, wave, tidal stream and tidal range). This includes consideration of the implications of alternatives to the plan/programme and consideration of potential interactions with other users of the sea. 
  • Inform the UK Government's decisions on the draft plan/programme. 
  • Provide routes for public and stakeholder participation in the process.

The DECC draft plan/programme under consideration is broad ranging and covers the majority of energy related activities in the UK marine environment. The elements of the draft plan/programme are: 

Renewable Energy

  1. Wave – future leasing in the relevant parts of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone and the territorial waters of England and Wales. The Scottish Renewable Energy Zone and Scottish and Northern Irish waters within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit are not included. In view of the relatively early stage of technological development, a target generation capacity is not set in the draft plan/programme.
  2. Tidal stream – future leasing in the relevant parts of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone and the territorial and internal waters of England and Wales. The Scottish Renewable Energy Zone and Scottish and Northern Irish waters within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit are not included. In view of the relatively early stage of technological development, a target generation capacity is not set in the draft plan/programme. Similarly, a minimum average tidal current velocity threshold is not proposed. 
  3. Tidal range – future leasing in the internal and territorial waters of England and Wales. It is considered unlikely that there will be tidal range developments outside of territorial waters. 
  4. Offshore wind – to enable further offshore wind farm leasing in the relevant parts of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone and the territorial waters of England and Wales. The technologies covered will include turbines of up to 15MW capacity and tethered (i.e. floating) turbines in waters up to 200m. The Scottish Renewable Energy Zone and the territorial waters of Scotland and Northern Ireland are not included in this part of the plan/programme.

Oil & Gas

  1. Exploration and production – further Seaward Rounds of oil and gas licensing of the UK territorial sea and UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). 
  2. Hydrocarbon gas importation and storage – further licensing/leasing for unloading and underground storage of hydrocarbon gas in UK waters (territorial waters and the relevant parts of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone), including hydrocarbon gas storage in other geological formations/structures such as constructed salt caverns, and the offshore unloading of hydrocarbon gas.

Carbon Dioxide 

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) transportation and storage – further licensing/leasing for underground storage of carbon dioxide gas in UK waters (the UK Exclusive Economic Zone and relevant territorial waters, excluding the territorial waters of Scotland). OESEA3 Offshore Energy SEA 3: Environmental Report would include CO2 storage in geological formations/structures including depleted reservoirs (and for enhanced oil recovery), aquifers and constructed salt caverns.

The full draft programme/plan documentation and consultation information can be accessed here