Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has advised The Crown Estate, manager of the seabed and much of the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on its latest Minerals Licensing Round which, earlier this month (6 January 2021), announced the grant of rights to Cornish Lithium to explore for lithium within geothermal waters off the coast of Cornwall.

Lithium is a key component used for electric vehicles and renewable energy power storage, and as such, has a valuable role to play in helping the UK meet its ambitious climate change targets. The award of rights follows a comprehensive two-year tender process which started in 2018 and gives the nod to Cornish Lithium to start its desk-based exploration programme and identify potential geological targets for later research.

The WBD team advising The Crown Estate was led by legal director Joanna Beattie-Edwards, who has over 20 years' experience in marine and minerals projects, together with partner Anthony Alderman and legal director Sarah Holmes. The firm provided key energy, real estate, planning and environmental and commercial expertise on the matter.

WBD has a longstanding relationship with The Crown Estate, which works closely with the Government and key stakeholders to optimise the potential of the seabed to create holistic value and drive green growth. Last year WBD acted for The Crown Estate on the Bacton to Walcott Coastal Management Scheme, the UK's first ever sandscaping project which is designed to counter coastal erosion and protect local communities.

Joanna Beattie-Edwards of WBD commented:

"We're thrilled to have advised The Crown Estate on this exciting and unique project and to see the culmination of everyone's efforts with the granting of rights to Cornish Lithium announced last week. It has been a pleasure for our firm to be involved in this important new development for the exploration of lithium under the Cornish seabed, which presents fresh and pioneering opportunities to support the UK's commitment towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050."

Nick Everington, Portfolio Manager at The Crown Estate, added:

“Following a robust tender process for rights to explore for minerals off the coast of Cornwall, we are pleased to award these initial rights to Cornish Lithium for exploratory works. This is a further example of The Crown Estate’s role as managers of the UK’s seabed to help unlock the sustainable and coordinated use of our world-leading marine resources. We're grateful to the WBD team for its ongoing commitment to the project, the firm's renewable energy expertise and excellent legal counsel have been key throughout this complex process."

WBD's energy team has been immersed in the energy and natural resources sectors for decades, giving it great depth of experience across the various different forms of energy and power. This experience allows WBD's energy lawyers to identify the best routes through the complex issues that affect companies operating in the sectors. The team also has extensive experience in marine property; carrying out onshore, foreshore and offshore real estate work.