Research aims to establish priority in coastal conflict
CONFLICTING demands on our coastal waters have been an issue ever since the early settlers sailed to and from our island country.
Since then, fishing fleets, expanding trading routes and offshore development such as oil and gas fields have seen the number of people using the sea for different purposes grow to unprecedented levels.
Recent developments in the offshore wind and tidal energy sector in particular is driving a new demand, and conflicts are already emerging as established industries claim turbines and other devices will affect their livelihoods.
But who has priority?
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In a bid to unravel the answer and clarify current legislation governing the multiple uses of the UK's coastal waters, Hull firm Myton Law is supporting a University Of Hull research project that will study the interaction of offshore renewable energy installations, including wind, tidal and wave, with fisheries and fishing communities, as well as the wider marine environment. The research, which is now under way, aims to provide a clearer legal framework for managing possible conflicts arising out of the development and operation of offshore energy installations.
Scott Yates, of Myton Law, said the research will bring tangible benefits to those working in maritime industries, while helping to reinforce Hull as a leading centre for renewable energy and maritime expertise.
He said: "This is not a theoretical piece of research that will end up sitting on a shelf gathering dust, it will have tangible benefits to people in the business world.
"Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of people operating in the sea, from fisherman and leisure crafts to trading vessels and energy companies.
"Now, there are companies looking to develop an array of schemes linked to renewable energy, so there are lots of people trying to use the sea for their own interests.
"There comes a point when it has to be decided whose interests take precedent. In recent years, there has been a number of conflicts centred around who has the right to do what. This research will drill down to establish the legal parameters."
The research forms part of the University Of Hull's multimillion pound investment in renewables, which is led by CASS, its renewable energy and low-carbon organisation.
Over the next year, university research associate Nikki Christie will be working with Myton Law's team of shipping and maritime lawyers to establish strategies for resolving conflicts and gather knowledge of operational, planning and policy issues.
Professor Richard Barnes, of the University Of Hull's Law School, said: "As a specialist legal practice advising a diverse range of clients operating in the maritime sector, Myton Law's support in helping us to address the governance and regulation aspect of this project will add an important practical and commercial dimension to our research."