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7. NRW review


We will undertake a review of consenting and supporting evidence and advice, to ensure a timely and proportionate process including:

  1.  An end-to-end review of the marine licensing, consenting and supporting advisory processes to remove barriers, drawing on the work of existing groups
  2. A review of resource needs and options for consenting and advisory processes to keep pace with the growth in renewables, including an urgent review of resource needs and options for NRW’s Offshore Renewable Energy Programme
  3. Identifying priority marine and terrestrial evidence gaps and mechanisms to fill them, to expedite the application process
  4. Reviewing and mapping the process for land based renewables installations to obtain an environmental permit, with a focus on emerging technologies
  5. Identifying options for releasing capacity and redirecting resource to agreed priority areas
  6. We will report our findings during summer 2022, except for point b. which we will report on in spring 2022.

Key highlights / milestones    

This recommendation has involved extensive internal work within NRW and discussions between Welsh Government and NRW. 
Key highlights since the deep dive include:


  • Appointing a contractor to undertake an independent review of the marine licensing process as it applies in Wales. 
  • In July, a series of consultee and stakeholder interviews were held to gather evidence on current processes.  The evidence gathered will inform recommendations. 

(b) NRW has completed a review of resource needs which has been fed into the independent review. 


  • NRW has published its Marine and Coastal Evidence Priority Needs
  • NRW is also working with external partners on strategic offshore evidence initiatives (such as Defra’s Offshore Wind Environmental Evidence Register, the Offshore Renewables Joint Industries Programmes for Offshore Wind and Ocean Energy, and Wales’ Consenting Strategic Advisory Group Science and Evidence Subgroup) to address evidence gaps for both offshore wind and wet renewables.
  • Noting that relevant environmental evidence is a shared responsibly of WG, NRW and developers, WG has also identified evidence needs to support marine planning for renewables.  
  • Further work expected on terrestrial evidence, dependent in part on the outcome of the above business case.

(d) Multiple relevant decision-making bodies identified to work on this recommendation collectively

(e) See b. This is now complete.

Next steps towards completion

Over the next 6 months our priority actions include:

(a) Final report on the end-to-end review of marine licensing, expected at the end of October. This will include a series of recommendations for improvements to the process.

(b) Further work to review the future resource needs to align NRW resources to fulfil the renewable energy sector needs. 


  • NRW to commission additional marine evidence, dependent on the outcome of the business case. 
  • Further collaborative delivery options to be identified for large and long-term evidence gaps.
  • Scoping this autumn on priority environmental evidence needs for terrestrial renewables from NRW including assessing the best way to resource those evidence needs 

(d) A scoping conversation is to be set up with all bodies involved in land-based permitting (e.g. WG, NRW, LAs etc)
(e) Complete.

8. Marine strategic resource areas


We will, with NRW and key stakeholders, identify marine ‘strategic resource areas’ by 2023 and provide guidance to signpost appropriate and inappropriate areas for development of different renewable energy technologies. Our marine planning, licensing and marine conservation policies will work together to provide a pathway for marine renewable developments.

Key highlights / milestones    

This recommendation is progressing well with a mapping exercise underway and progress reported throughout the summer.
Key highlights since the deep dive include:

  • Holding an introductory stakeholder event in March 2022;
  • Completing stakeholder feedback exercises, enabling technical criteria to be agreed and initial baseline resource mapping to be undertaken;
  • Completing a series of technical sector-specific stakeholder workshops to agree Strategic Resource Area (SRA) mapping criteria for each sector;
  • Completing and publishing Habitat Regulation Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment screening reports. Work commenced on Sustainability Appraisal;
  • NRW progression of complementary environmental mapping exercise .

Next steps towards completion

This recommendation will be completed in 2023 when proposed marine strategic resource areas will be consulted upon.
Over the next 6 months our priority actions include:

  • Circulating baseline resource maps to stakeholders in September 2022;
  • Holding stakeholder events to discuss our approach to reflecting environmental considerations in SRA mapping in autumn 2022;
  • Delivering the outputs of NRW environmental mapping exercise by end of October;
  • Sharing the preliminary SRA mapping with stakeholders for discussion by end 2022;
  • Finalising maps of proposed SRAs together with a Sustainability Appraisal report by spring 2023. 

9. Offshore Advisory Powers (JNCC to NRW)


While we pursue the devolution of the Crown Estate we will streamline the process for developing the Celtic Sea renewable energy projects including delegating offshore advisory powers from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to NRW. 

Key highlights / milestones

Key highlights since the deep dive include:

  • Creation of a briefing paper for Welsh Government, by NRW, to explain the background to the delegation including how the approach has been adopted in England and Scotland;
  • NRW initiation of discussions with JNCC to discuss the transfer of advisory powers in the offshore region;
  • Sharing a draft forward plan for evaluating the delegation with JNCC. 
  • Continued discussions with The Crown Estate on how to maximise the economic and social value from offshore wind developments and actions for how the Crown Estate can provide greater clarity on future investment pipeline potential. 

Next steps towards completion

Subject to agreement between Welsh Government, NRW and JNCC, over the next 6 months our priorities include:

  • NRW and JNCC conducting a full review of delegation options in collaboration with JNCC and Welsh Government and in consultation with developers operating in Wales;
  • NRW and JNCC seeking final decision via Welsh Government, NRW Marine Programme Board and JNCC Committee and potentially put plans into delivery.