The UK decommissioning regime for offshore wind farms
The UK decommissioning regime for offshore wind farms

The following Energy practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The UK decommissioning regime for offshore wind farms
  • International regulatory regime
  • UK regulatory regime
  • BEIS guidance notes for industry
  • Stage 1—preliminary discussions with BEIS and the developer/owner
  • Stage 2—issue of a section 105 notice by the SOS
  • Stage 3—detailed discussions leading to submission and consideration of a draft programme
  • Stage 4—consultation with interested parties
  • Stage 5—formal submission of a decommissioning programme for approval under section 106 of the Act
  • Stage 6—in operation updates and reviews
  • More...

The requirements for decommissioning an offshore wind farm at the end of its operational life are primarily aimed at managing potential environmental impacts and navigational safety issues to avoid any burden on the public purse.

The UK’s international obligations to decommission disused installations are derived from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) which requires abandoned or disused installations or structures to be removed. There is no EU framework for offshore wind decommissioning, however, obligations arising under the EU waste regime are relevant. The UK’s domestic framework under the Energy Act 2004 (the Act) also takes into account standards and guidelines set out by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

In England and Wales, the Secretary of State (SOS) for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is the regulator for the purposes of decommissioning offshore wind installations; in Scotland, subject to the limitations set out in section 105(1A) of the Act, if an installation is to be or is wholly in an area of Scottish waters or an area of waters in a Scottish part of a Renewable Energy Zone, the relevant regulator is the Scottish Ministers (collectively referred to in the Act as the ‘Appropriate Minister’). In March 2019, BEIS released an updated guidance note on the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the Act: 'Decommissioning of offshore renewable

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