European Commission should encourage sea space planning

The European Commission needs to encourage EU Member States to carry out maritime spatial planning, and co-operate on how they use their sea space, due to the growing number of users of Europe’s seas – including offshore renewable energy – a new report, co-financed by the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy Europe programme, finds.

The report – Seanergy 2020 launched today at EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels – finds that currently there is little in the way of maritime spatial planning (MSP) in Europe’s maritime states but Member States sharing the same sea basin would benefit from co-operation – and the European Commission could provide MSP through a Directive or guidelines.

"It is necessary to act now" said Dorina Iuga, Senior Project Manager at European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). "MSP will guarantee sea space for offshore renewables and would give the industry more confidence to invest. The EU should draft an MSP Directive or guidelines requiring Member States to implement national sea space planning in cooperation with the other Member States sharing a sea basin."

The Dogger Bank area in the North Sea, stretching over four countries and with a multitude of sea uses – from environmental protection areas to wind farms and fishing – is a good example of where coordination on MSP is key: helping to minimise conflict between different sea users.