Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing today threw his weight behind the country’s emerging marine energy industry.
Speaking to industry leaders at a conference in Inverness, he announced the launch of a working group to help streamline and simplify leasing and consenting processes faced by developers of the new technology.
Mr Ewing said there was a genuine sense of excitement about marine renewables and that industry had a significant economic prize for Scotland.
But he said there were still barriers.
“Scotland is gearing up for the world’s first wave and tidal device arrays, for the first steps towards commerciality – a concept that only a few years ago would have been deemed as pie in the sky and hopelessly unachievable,” he said.
“World-leading companies are now beginning to sit up and take notice of the huge potential that marine energy has to offer.”
But he added: “I am concerned that there are still unnecessarily high costs and too much complexity in the leasing and consenting processes.
“Therefore I have established and will chair an expert industry group to address these particular concerns. This group will focus on the streamlining and simplifying of the consenting and planning processes, within this sector and others.”
Mr Ewing was speaking on the final day of Scottish Renewables marine energy conference, attended by more than 200 people.
He also appealed to companies to take part in a consultation over the future of the renewables obligation scheme, which provides support to renewables projects, and said the Scottish Government was working closely with Whitehall over the ongoing electricity market reform, which plans to create an electricity market framework.
Mr Ewing also repeated a call by First Minister Alex Salmond for Scotland to be given access to Fossil Fuel Levy funds worth more than £200million for use to help commercialisation for marine renewables.