The use of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as part of the range of measures designed to reduce the UK's CO2 emissions continues to draw closer. A recent research study by the Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage and the Scottish Government (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/04/28114540/0) concluded that Scotland has extensive offshore CO2 storage resources (saline aquifers and hydrocarbon fields) similar in capacity to that of Norway's and larger than that of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark combined.
The CO2 to be captured and stored comes largely from large industrial sites such as power stations and large industrial plants and is to be transported offshore by pipeline. Whilst aspects of the existing regulatory framework relating to the piping of fossil fuels and offshore oil exploration/production could be adapted for the purposes of CCS, it is apparent that new regulation will be required in order for CCS to become a viable, large-scale industry.
The regulatory issues to be addressed will include the allocation of liability for environmental damage, personal injury and "climate liability" in the event of a CO2 escape.
It may be that the regulatory framework to be developed in support of CCS will incorporate aspects of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as a means of incentivising relevant parties to participate in CCS. Such a scheme would, however, still leave regulatory gaps in relation to risk assessment and management; verification and assurance; liability; and compulsory ending of CCS activities.
It may be possible to use existing EU environmental law regimes, either as they currently stand or by amendment, to address those issues for example:
- The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, which in any event might be expected to be part of the process for assessing sites, risk assessment and pipeline routes;
- The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, which would require the setting down of technical standards for design, construction, operation and closure of CCS operations;
- The Seveso II Directive (on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances), which could be used to strengthen the assessment and management of risk; and
- The Environmental Liability Directive, which could be used to create a requirement to remediate environmental damage caused by CCS operations.
Whether these pieces of legislation would, of themselves, be sufficient to cover the various regulatory "bases" associated with CCS is debatable. Even if amending legislation is practicable, a piecemeal approach will be confusing and risks leaving gaps. A stand-alone, CCS-specific regime may be preferable in order to provide a comprehensive regulatory basis for CCS activities.
In any event, significant issues in respect of environmental, planning, construction, corporate and funding matters can be expected to arise in the development of a CCS industry in Scotland.
For further discussion of these issues, please use this link to refer to the paper by Paul Zakkour of ERM:
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