The role of MSP for Offshore Energy Developments

As part of this section, information on the existing national MSP practices and their impact on offshore renewable deployment have been collected. Information included the status of national marine planning as well as sectoral planning for offshore energy. The relevant public authorities responsible for carrying out planning activities by country have also been listed. Each national profile reflect the country’s legislative framework and history of MSP, planning responsibilities, planning provisions undertaken so far and includes links to the national process of marine licensing.

The MSP status of NSR countries and the blue shaded area of eligibility under the North Sea Region Programme is displayed below. More summary information can be found at the bottom of this chapter.


Figure 14: MSP status in North Sea countries.  


The nations bordering the North Sea are developing MSP to fulfil their requirements under the EU Directive for MSP, to deliver maritime spatial planning by March 2021. NSR countries are in different stages in MSP development. Overall, MSP practices in NSR countries are well rooted in national legislation, with country-specific institutional frameworks in place. Current structures reflect traditional planning procedures as well as national needs and priorities. Most NSR countries have had at least one version of a statutory national marine plan adopted. Countries including Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany are already in the process of revising their national MSP. Others, such as Denmark and Sweden are in the process of establishing a marine plan for the first time.

Considering transnational aspects of MSP, it is acknowledged that national approaches do not necessarily need to be harmonised. However, processes need to be compatible to efficiently manage human activities and management issues of transnational nature, including offshore energy. All national MSP frameworks have had explicit reference to transnational cooperation. However, the issue of transnational cooperation is generally handled only a peripheral way and proactive engagement is limited. Some transnational consultation is dealt by acknowledging its importance, or undertaking ad-hoc consultation quite late in the MSP process. In addition, only some countries have not signed up to concrete transnational cooperation on joint projects.

There are important interdependencies between national and transnational levels of MSP with room for improvement, primarily around offshore energy. Energy issues, including spatial designations for offshore wind, licencing procedures for developments of transnational character, environmental management and marine conservation, as well as general offshore energy linear infrastructure provision (e.g. offshore grid, interconnector cables etc.), transcend national borders, and must be discussed cooperatively. Transnational approaches to MSP can benefit offshore renewables through additional efficiencies from cross-border coordination, reduced planning uncertainty for developers, and expanded opportunities for deployment and/or cost savings from shared infrastructure.

Regional sea basin forums, as well as cooperation project such as NorthSEE, offer the opportunity to improve coordination of a number of aspects related to MSP including: planning timeframes, better communication, onshore and offshore grid infrastructure, data formats and availability, research methodologies and efforts, and some management measures including elements of permitting.

At this stage, it should be noted that the English authorities are not participating in the NorthSEE transnational projects. As a result there it is possible there are knowledge and data gap for UK waters, including energy targets and planning provisions. The Scottish Government currently represents the Scottish part of the United Kingdom, and has reviewed publicly available information for the English part, due to the English MSP authority not participating in the project.


Summary information about MSP status of NSR countries



 Table 1: Summary information about MSP status of NSR countries