'Next steps' confirmed for future Scottish offshore wind leasing

Out-Law News | 03 Dec 2018 | 11:42 am | 1 min. read

The first round in a new leasing programme for offshore wind projects in Scottish waters could get underway as early as April 2019, Crown Estate Scotland has indicated.

The public body, which manages seabed leasing on behalf of the Scottish ministers, has published an update to the industry (12-page / 437KB PDF), following on from the initial proposals it published in May. The update sets out a potential timetable for the new leasing programme, which will be called 'ScotWind Leasing', and addresses issues raised by respondents to its consultation.

John Robertson, Crown Estate Scotland's senior development manager, said that the update was designed to provide the industry with "certainty and clarity".

"There is clearly a huge appetite for this leasing to succeed in helping bring forward strong projects," he said. "Over the coming months, we'll continue to speak with those involved as we work towards publishing our leasing offer in 2019."

Property law expert Alan Cook of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, welcomed the update.

"It is encouraging to see Crown Estate Scotland progressing its plans for future rounds of Scottish offshore wind leasing and engaging with the development community and other stakeholders," he said. "With The Crown Estate also developing its plans for the next round of leasing around the rest of the UK, the prospects are looking good for longer-term future growth in the UK's offshore wind sector."

The Scottish government is targeting having half of Scotland's heat, transport and electricity energy needs met by renewables by 2030. It sees offshore wind development as a viable route towards helping achieve this.

According to its update, Crown Estate Scotland anticipates that the first ScotWind Leasing round will last for six months, beginning no earlier than April 2019 and running until no earlier than October 2019. Assuming it proceeds on that timetable, option agreements would be made to successful applicants in January 2020. Clearing would begin the same month, and option agreements would be offered through clearing in June 2020. A second round of leasing would then begin in April 2021.

Crown Estate Scotland said that it would provide a further update on leasing round timings in January.

Leases will be awarded in areas identified by Marine Scotland in its Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind (SMP), a draft of which will be published soon following its own consultation exercise. Applicants will be able to propose an appropriate site boundary and size, provided that it falls within an individual SMP draft plan area.

The update also confirms that applicants will be permitted to make as many applications as they like, and that Crown Estate Scotland will not cap the total amount of seabed awarded in any given leasing cycle.