Offshore wind farms have been operational in the United Kingdom since 2003 and continue to be constructed, driven by the United Kingdom’s commitment to meet 15% of energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. As a result, United Kingdom seas contain many offshore wind farms. The presence of infrastructure such as foundations and cables could limit the types of economic activities that can take place around them, such as fishing or aggregate dredging. By restricting activities that can negatively affect the environment, offshore wind farms potentially create de facto marine protected areas. Formalising this arrangement and co-locating offshore wind farms and marine protected areas might therefore maximise spatial efficiency by allowing these activities to occur concurrently in time and space where they are compatible. In our case study, we review the scenario within United Kingdom waters by examining the planning and licencing requirements in relation to co-location of offshore wind farms and marine protected areas, using case-study sites with two different forms of marine protected area designation in the United Kingdom. We examine the compatibility of these co-location scenarios and discuss implications for management and mitigation to ensure marine protected area objectives are met.
This is a book chapter in Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning.