The UK government is to launch an environmental study on marine energy projects in England and Wales, paving the way for commercial wave and tidal devices to be deployed.

Lord Hunt, Climate Change Minister, told a conference the government would start screening for the Strategic Environmental Assessment for marine energy in the two countries, required for all major infrastracture projects by the EU.

It is to be completed by late 2011.

It's a signal really that we are very serious about marine (energy), he told reporters.

The government wants Britain to become a world leader in wave and marine technologies, creating renewable energy jobs.

It was one of the sectors where the government had identified Britain had an advantage and it was to support.

We have to make everything to support that sector. That's what we are doing with marine.

Last week, the government announced it would provide 405 million pounds ($600 million) to support emerging low-carbon technology, such as marine and tidal energy, as part of its efforts to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.

But the government's Marine Renewable Development Fund (MRDF) has been criticized for being too strict in selecting projects to spur sector growth.

Only full-scale projects that have collected data from three-months operating at sea qualify for support from the 50-million pound ($74.19 million) fund which was set up three years ago.

Commercial scale wave and tidal devices were only put into operation for the first time last year and there none with a full 3-months of data because of bad sea conditions.

The British Wind Energy Association(BWEA) welcomed the government move.

It will open Britain's coast line and estuaries to clean, green energy that will help power a low carbon economy, it said.

(Reporting by Nao Nakanishi; Editing by Keiron Henderson)