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Offshore Wind Turbines

Transport written question – answered on 15th December 2003.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government are taking to limit the possibility of ships colliding with offshore wind turbines.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

My Department will continue to strive to ensure that the risk of ships colliding with offshore wind turbines is kept as low as practicable. When granting consents under the Coast Protection Act 1949 my Department ensures that offshore wind turbines are not located in areas of high collision risk. When construction begins, the existence of offshore wind turbines in a specific location is made known to mariners by way of Notices to Mariners issued by the UK Hydrographic Office and, where necessary, by annotations on nautical charts. Offshore wind turbine developments are also required to be marked in accordance with guidance issued by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities.

In considering the second round of bids for site leases, my Department is working with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Crown Estate to help direct offshore renewable energy developments towards areas of the sea associated with low numbers of ship movements. My Department wishes to obtain a full understanding of the cumulative impact on shipping caused by the potential development of the site leases and will consult the shipping and ports industries on the outcome of the Crown Estate's tender assessment panel.

There will also be further consultation by developers as the legislative consents process requires an environmental impact assessment to be made for each site. To assist developers assess the risks posed by shipping and the measures that they should take to mitigate those risks, detailed guidance has been made available by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The Government are introducing legislative proposals in the Energy Bill for safety zones to be established around offshore renewable energy developments. The Bill, which was introduced into the other place (House of Lords) on 30 November, also makes provision for the creation of a new offence in respect of unauthorised ships entering, or breaching the restrictions on operating within, a safety zone. My officials will work closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Department for Trade and Industry in establishing safety zones, appropriate to individual offshore turbine developments, in order to further reduce the risk of collisions.

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