In 2008, Deltares wrote a report called ‘Development of a framework for Appropriate Assessments of Dutch offshore wind farms’ (Prins et al. 2008) as a basis or guideline for the wind farm-specific Appropriate Assessments for nineteen initiatives for offshore wind farms (OWFs) on the Dutch continental shelf (DCS). This report is further referred to as the "Framework". This Framework was an important step in the process of coming to a standardised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA).
Below, a short history is given of the process of environmental impact assessment of OWFs in the Netherlands:
- Two first Dutch OWFs were build in 2006 and 2007, “Offshore Windpark Egmond aan Zee” (OWEZ) and Q7, later on called “Princess Amalia Wind Park” ( PAWP ). These were called the first-round OWFs. EIAs, but no AAs were written for these OWFs. A monitoring and research plan was set up and carried out on the environmental effects of the construction and operation of these OWFs, of which the results so far were compiled in Lindeboom et al. (2011).
- For the so-called second sound OWFs, the licensing process for 19 windfarm initiatives for was started, for which EIAs and AAs were written. The process of writing the EIAs was complex and long and led to the conclusion that significant negative effects on natural values protected in N2000 areas could not be excluded. Therefore, AAs were needed. The unsatisfactory EIA process led to the overall remark from both the industry and the governmental bodies that it would be sensible to standardise the methodology for writing AAs. This methodology was described in the 2008 Framework (short for Development of a framework for Appropriate Assessments of Dutch offshore wind farms , Prins et al 2008).
- After completion of the second-round AAs (e.g. Arends et al. 2008), it became clear that on many aspects of the possible environmental impacts, knowledge was lacking to come to a well-founded conclusion. It was decided that a research plan was needed to solve major knowledge gaps, which led to the so-called Masterplan (Boon et al. 2012).
- The Masterplan led to the set up and execution of the “Shortlist” monitoring and research plan, which was carried out in 2010 and 2011. This research led to filling in some of the major knowledge gaps, but in most cases it was also acknowledged that this Shortlist program was an important but first step (Lindeboom et al. 2011).
- The results of the Shortlist monitoring and research were reviewed and knowledge advancements and possible follow-up was described in Boon (2012a). Based on these results, a follow was given to the Shortlist program, called VUM (Vervolg Uitvoering Masterplan, Follow up Execution Masterplan) or Shortlist II. This VUM is currently being carried out.
- The results of the Shortlist program also led to the current report and another report which is being written concurrently (Boon 2012b). The latter report describes the relevance of the Shortlist results for the inclusion of preventive measures for any environmental effects A methodological update of the Framework for the Appropriate Assessment of the ecological effects of Offshore Windfarms at the Dutch Continental Shelf in the future licenses for OWFs, and the possibilities for improving the spatial planning possibilities for OWFs at the Dutch Continental Shelf (DCS).
- The current report is also a spin off of the Shortlist results: it describes the improvements in the methods for environmental impact assessments done in the 2008 Framework (Prins et al. 2008) made possible by the Shortlist results. It is called the Update to the 2008 Framework report.
To facilitate the use of this increased knowledge base, Rijkswaterstaat asked for an update of the 2008 Appropriate Assessment Framework (Prins et al. 2008). The results from the shortlist research, and from the relevant and publicly available studies carried out in recent years at the two already existing offshore windfarms Offshore Windpark Egmond aan Zee ( OWEZ ) and Prinses Amalia Windpark ( PAWP ), were used to update the Framework. Adding to the results of these studies, results from relevant international studies were used to compare to the Dutch results.