Increased integration between innovative ocean energy and the EU habitats, species and water protection rules through Maritime Spatial Planning

Journal Article

Title: Increased integration between innovative ocean energy and the EU habitats, species and water protection rules through Maritime Spatial Planning
Authors: van Hees, S.
Publication Date:
February 01, 2019
Journal: Marine Policy
Volume: 100
Pages: 27-42
Publisher: Elsevier
Affiliation:

Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

van Hees, S. (2019). Increased integration between innovative ocean energy and the EU habitats, species and water protection rules through Maritime Spatial Planning. Marine Policy, 100, 27-42.
Abstract: 

This article investigates whether Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) –which promotes the integrated planning and management of seas and oceans– can play a role in creating increased integration between the EU's renewable energy policy and the potentially conflicting rules on the protection of habitats, species and water. The article focuses on innovative ocean energy (tidal stream, wave and salinity gradient energy). It can be said that there is a possible lack of integration between the Renewable Energy Directive and the EU rules on the protection of habitats, species and water: the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive, the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The role that MSP could play in solving this is assessed with regard to the following two legal issues that reflect the said lack of integration: 1) while there are derogation clauses, there is no obligation for Member States to apply these clauses and to undertake a balancing act between ocean energy, on the one hand, and the protection of habitats, species and water, on the other; 2) even if these clauses are applied, it remains unclear how much weight Member States should attach to ocean energy under a subsequent balancing act. The concept of Maritime Spatial Planning in theory is very suitable for guaranteeing that the interests of both renewable energy policy and environmental policy are duly taken into account in licensing procedures and management measures. The contribution that MSP can make towards increased integration is, however, strongly dependent on the way MSP is interpreted on the Member State level. This is illustrated by a discussion of the differences in the current MSP approaches in Scotland and the Netherlands. This article concludes that Maritime Spatial Planning may –if certain conditions are fulfilled– be a suitable way to create a necessity to balance the EU's habitats, species and water protection rules with (ocean) renewable energy projects, on different levels of governance. Nevertheless, it also concludes that MSP alone cannot guarantee a balancing act that represents the goals of the Renewable Energy Directive and those of the aforementioned environmental directives in an equal manner. This article proposes to link MSP to detailed renewable energy plans per Member State in order to solve this issue.

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