City Region Deal

Liverpool City Region Deal – Low Carbon Regulatory Pilot

In 2012 as part of the Liverpool City Region Deal (LCR) with Government, MEAS was asked to lead on a pilot project to examine how major low carbon projects could be supported and accelerated through the consenting processes.  Project partners include MEAS, Natural England, Environment Agency, MMO, RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, private sectors companies, private consultancies, landowners, Wirral, Liverpool, Sefton Council and the North West Coastal Group.

With over £500million already invested in low carbon energy sector investments, there is potential to create over 12,000 new jobs in the low carbon economy across the City Region over the next 5 years.  The LCR has a growing low carbon economy.  We also have a great responsibility for nature conservation given that 18% of the LCR area is designated as sites of national or international importance for wildlife.

The objective of the low carbon regulatory pilot is to examine ways in which the regulatory process can be facilitated, thus easing risks and burdens to all involved.  Good co-ordination between Regulators and cutting red tape are at the heart of the approach.

The Pilot has four distinct strands:

  • Improve the certainty in decision making by investing in a more comprehensive and up-to-date baseline of environmental information e.g. bird counts on designated sites and supporting habitat, mapping of coastal habitats.
  • Put in place working protocols to ensure that Regulators co-ordinate their efforts and enter into early dialogue with project promoters or applicants to resolve issues.
  • Ensure that Regulatory assessments draw on up-to-date information in revised Conservation Packages (prepared by Natural England).
  • Ensure that a proportionate approach is taken to evidence gathering and that integrated regulatory assessments are undertaken wherever possible.

LCR Deal Progress:

New surveys and re-prioritised surveys have been commissioned including bird counting on the Mersey Estuary, including access to areas of supporting habitat never previously surveyed eg low water and area specific bird counts. This information will be used as a common evidence base to support regulatory assessments for low carbon and other development projects saving time and money for project developers.  It also enables new survey work to be focussed on the areas of greatest need or risk.

Two low carbon projects have been facilitated through the Pilot and the new working protocols developed and implemented.  These working protocols are now “business as usual” and have also been used to inform the simplified National approach. More LCR projects will be assisted through this approach.

Single regulatory assessments have been completed for projects that span the land/marine regulatory systems, with savings and benefits for the regulators, their advisors and also project sponsors.

Agreement has been reached on baseline evidence requirements, saving time and money for project developers.

The Pilot will report during 2014/15 to Government.