Assessing the e nvironm ental im pact ... Belgian part o f the North ...

Assessing the environm ental im pact o f offshore wind farms in the
Belgian part o f the North Sea
Rumes Bob, Di M arcantonio Marisa and Brigitte Lauwaert
Marine. Ecosystem Management Section, M anagem ent Unit o f the N orth Sea M athem atical Models,
Royal Belgian Institute o f Natural Sciences, Gulledelle 100, 1 200 Brussels, Belgium
E-mail: bob.rum [email protected] mum
By 2020, renewable energy sources should account fo r 13% o f the Belgian e le ctricity consum ption.
O ffshore wind farm s are expected to co ntribu te about one-tenth o f th is demand. In May 2004, the
Belgian governm ent designated a zone fo r the co nstruction and e x p lo ita tio n o f installations fo r the
pro du ction o f energy from water, currents or w ind. Every proposed project has to acquire a num ber
o f federal perm its, including the environm ental perm it. The environm ental p erm it procedure
includes an environm ental im pact assessment (EIA) by the MUMM. The EIA pertains to both direct
environm ental im pacts (such as on biodiversity, fauna, sedim ents and hydrodynam ics) as well as
more indirect environm ental im pacts (such as o il-spill risks and green house gas emissions), and
sociological impacts (such as on seascape or effects on o th e r m aritim e activities). The EIA is based
on an environm ental im pact study (EIS) subm itted by the applicant, on the cu rren tly available
scien tific knowledge and on the results o f e xisting m on itoring program m es. Since 2004, three
o ffshore w ind farm projects, to ta llin g ~880 MegaWatt installed capacity, have been granted
environm ental perm its, w ith a fo u rth project cu rren tly in the licensing procedure. Every
e nvironm ental perm it comes w ith a num ber (site- and project-specific) co nd itio ns aimed at
m itig a tin g or m in im izin g the environm ental im pact o f the activities. When certain unavoidable
e nvironm ental impacts are foreseen during the EIA, a coordinated long-term m o n itoring program m e
is drafted to determ ine the e xten t o f these impacts.