In Scotland, applications to build and operate power stations within the Marine Environment are made to the Scottish Ministers for consent. Applications are considered by Scottish Ministers where they are in excess of 1 MW for offshore wind farms and generating stations wholly or mainly driven by water (such as hydroelectric, wave or tidal generating stations).
Such applications cover new developments as well as modifications to existing developments. Applications below these thresholds are made to the relevant local planning authority.
Where applications fall to be decided by Scottish Ministers, the purpose of the energy consents decision making process is to allow a balance to be drawn between the interests of developers, energy and planning policy, community interests and environmental considerations. Applications to Scottish Ministers for power stations need to be accompanied by an Environmental Statement which describes the effects the development is likely to have on the environment. The application and the environmental statement are available locally for public inspection. The planning authority and public bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency are invited to comment on the application. Their views, as well as other representations made to Ministers, are considered during the decision making process.
In circumstances where important issues are raised, Ministers can decide to hold a Public Local Inquiry before decisions are taken. Ministerial approval of a project includes deemed planning permission and will authorise the developer to construct and begin operating the development within five years of the date of decision, subject to relevant conditions relating to environmental and other effects.