Offshore Wind Farms
The EU Commission’s objective is to reduce dependence on oil and hydrocarbon products. To achieve this the Commission has set out a number of strategic priorities to facilitate and drive the development of renewable energy sources (RES) as part of the targets set in its Europe 2020 Strategy.
It is incumbent upon Member States to make significant improvements in energy efficiency in all its sectors and to increase the proportion of its electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Regrettably, there is a lack of integrated strategic planning for renewable energy developments where offshore wind developments are being considered by Member States.
Many Member States expect the development of offshore renewable wind energy to make a significant contribution to their renewable energy goals insofar as it represents a source of clean, indigenous and renewable energy. However the marine environment is not empty – the coast and the sea contribute to national economies through fishing, tourism, ports and harbours and commercial and recreation boating activities. The development of the offshore renewables sector must be done in a sustainable manner taking account of the potential impacts which such developments may have on other users of the sea.
Responsibility for the management of navigational safety in the marine environment falls to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and national Governments. The EBA believes that the European Commission should support the work of IMO and the Governments of EU Member States in this regard but should not seek to introduce its own regulatory framework.
The European Boating Association (“EBA”) opposes the imposition of operational safety zones around offshore wind energy installations (“wind farms”) for small craft (i.e. craft of less than 24m in length, including recreational craft).
The EBA opposes those features of individual wind farms that it believes present an intolerable hazard to navigation but it believes that the existence of a wind farm in itself does not present an intolerable hazard to navigation to small craft.