Planning Criteria for Offshore Wind Energy - North Sea Region Overview.


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The study is developed within the framework of the SEANSE project with the aim to compare and analyse different criteria applied by the North Sea countries for planning their offshore wind farms, while considering environment and other sea uses.

Sea Basin(s): 
October 2019
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Mineral extraction
Nature protection
Offshore renewable energy production
Oil and gas exploitation
Scientific Research
Submarine cables and pipelines
Under water cultural heritage
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Cross-border cooperation
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Renewable Energy Directive

Questions this practice may help answer: 

What are the criteria applied by the North Sea countries for planning the OWF?  


Implementation Context: 

The study is conducted in the framework of the SEANSE project with the purpose of developing a coherent approach to Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) focused on renewable energy, in support of the development and effective implementation of MSPs. 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The aim of the study is to compare different criteria applied by countries in planning of the Offshore Wind Farms (OWF) in the North Sea. 


As a first step, an overview of MSP and offshore wind development in the North Sea countries is provided, followed by the presentation of general criteria. The study then presents various sectoral arrangements for OWF, in relation to other marine uses in the North Sea region. OWF and other sea uses are analysed using the following categories: strict regulation, partial restriction or possible parallel usage (multi-use). Among conflicting activities, the study proposes the analyse of: 

  • Shipping routes  
  • Fisheries  
  • Flight safety  
  • Cables and pipelines 
  • Marine protected areas 
  • Species protection  

Main Outputs / Results:

By comparing different national planning approaches, criteria, and standards, the key planning issues are identified, for which transboundary planning solutions shall be discussed in future collaboration. The main concern for the development of the offshore wind energy is associated with adverse environmental effects. It is planned to further research and discuss this issue in the environmental subgroup of the North Sea Energy Cooperation. Spatial planning issues of transboundary nature include, among others, coordinated grid planning, multi-use of space, data quality and accessibility. The support group 2 on the maritime spatial planning of the Energy Cooperation intends to develop concepts and scenarios on these planning topics, and to exchange experiences and best practices on spatial planning, site preparation and permitting for the offshore wind farms. 

Overall, the multitude of planning conflicts underlines the need for MSP as a tool to balance the spatial needs of different sectors in the North Sea, while at the same time protecting the environment and biodiversity. 


Although the study is developed for the North Sea, it could be applied in MSP in other European marine regions. 

Responsible Entity: 

SEANSE project 

Funding Source: 

Co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).