Government and stakeholders present North Sea agreement

Construction at Borssele 1 & 2 OWF ©Ørsted

Earlier this week an agreement (Onderhandelaarsakkoord) on the use of the North Sea was presented. All participating parties reached consent on the content of the Agreement which has the theme ‘additional miles for a healthy North Sea’. The cabinet has now handed the Agreement to the parliament. A consultation period will take place till 31 March during which the participating parties can discuss the Agreement with their members.

The North Sea is already used intensively. With the plans for large scale offshore wind development, as part of the Climate Agreement, the North Sea will become even more crowded. This has already caused friction between energy, nature and food supply. The different stakeholders, being the energy sector, fishery, nature organisations and port associations, have requested from the Dutch government to create a set of agreements on the use of the North Sea.

A consultation (Noordzeeoverleg) was initiated to discuss this. The North Sea consultation was steered by Jacques Wallage of the consultative body for physical environment OFL (Overlegorgaan Fysieke Leefomgeving). The Agreement should safeguard the interests of all commercial stakeholders whilst also safeguard the quality of the ecology.

The Agreement outlines the plans for the next ten years but also explores the period following. The government will sponsor € 200 million Euro of which a large part (119 million Euro) is destined for the restructuring and greening of the cutter fleet. 12 million Euro will be made available for the safe passage of vessels during construction of the wind farms. Another 14 million Euro is reserved for enhanced supervision on the implementation of the Agreement and 55 million Euro is to go to additional monitoring, scientific research and nature conservation.

The Agreement should form the basis of other policies on the North Sea, including the ‘Strategische Agenda voor de Noordzee 2030’ and the programme for the North Sea 2022-2027, and for the policy on the development of offshore wind after 2030. All participants take it upon themselves to implement the rules that will come from the Agreement.

Participating parties
The following parties are involved:

Government: Ministries of Infrastructure and Water management, Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality.
Wind energy: NWEA, NOGEPA, EBN, and TenneT.
Fishery: VisNed and the Dutch fishery association (Nederlandse Vissersbond).
Nature organisations: Stichting de Noordzee, WNF, Greenpeace, Natuur en Milieu and Vogelbescherming Nederland (bird protection)
Seaports: brancheorganisatie Zeehavens