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Energy Act 2004

Sections 99 and 100: Navigation and public rights of navigation

256.These sections introduce a new section, section 36A, into the Electricity Act 1989 whereby the Secretary of State or Scottish Ministers (within their respective competence) have the power to make a declaration extinguishing public rights of navigation. The power applies only where the generating station is to be located in territorial waters adjacent to Great Britain and other tidal waters up to the low water mark. Section 100 applies in cases where a section 36 consent has been granted before the commencement of section 99.

257.The declaration relates only to public rights of navigation which apply to the site of the renewable energy installation. There is various provision in respect of the effect of the declaration on rights of navigation, when it takes effect and the information which the declaration has to give. It is important that the declaration becomes known to those with an interest and subsection (6) of new section 36A of the Electricity Act 1989, as inserted by section 99, places an obligation on the Secretary of State to ensure that this happens.

258.Subsection (2) of section 99 integrates the process for applying for a declaration with the process for a section 36 consent, as set out in Schedule 8 of the Electricity Act 1989. Subsection (3) of section 99 excludes the functions in the new sections 36A and 36B of the Electricity Act from the principal objectives and general duties of the Secretary of State set out in sections 3A to 3C of that Act.

259.Section 99 also introduces a second new section, section 36B, into the Electricity Act 1989 which places certain duties on the Secretary of State or Scottish Ministers in relation to navigation when exercising their section 36 powers. Subsection (1) of section 36B requires the Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers to refuse to grant a section 36 consent where a generating station is likely to cause interference with the use of recognised sea lanes essential to international navigation. The term “use of recognised sea lanes essential to international navigation” is defined at section 36B(7).

260.Where in the judgment of the Secretary of State or Scottish Ministers there would be no interference with the use of recognised sea lanes essential to international navigation, subsection (2) requires them then to have regard to the nature of any obstruction or danger to navigation in deciding whether to grant a section 36 consent and, if a consent is granted, what conditions may be included in the consent. Under subsections (3) and (4)(a) the Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers must take into account the cumulative impact of generating stations in the area which have already been consented to and those which are likely to be consented to in making their assessment of the effect on the safety of navigation, as well as how they have or will exercise their powers in regard to the extinguishment of public rights of navigation. The Secretary of State must also take account of how he has or will exercise his powers under the Act in respect of safety zones and decommissioning (subsection (4)(b)).

261.As subsection (2) of section 36B provides the same safeguards as a consent under section 34 of the Coast Protection Act 1949, generating stations which are granted a section 36 consent after the commencement of these provisions do not require a Coast Protection Act consent. This disapplication of the requirement for a section 34 Coast Protection Act consent applies in Scotland only if Scottish Ministers so provide by order made by a statutory instrument and approved by the Scottish Parliament.

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