A massive development of offshore windmill farms has been planned along the European coastline. This raises important questions about the possible effects on the marine environment. Effects during the construction period may be minimized to a negligible impact if care is taken to avoid areas containing rare habitats or species. Disturbance caused by noise, vibrations, and electromagnetic fields during windmill operation may, with present knowledge, be considered to be of minor importance to the marine environment. The reef effect (i.e. addition of a hard substratum), is believed to cause the largest impact on the marine environment and at different scales: the micro scale, which involves material, texture, and heterogeneity of the foundation material; the meso scale, which involves the revetments and scour protection; and the macro scale, which encompasses the level of the entire windmill farm. Effects on these scales are discussed in relation to results obtained from natural habitats, artificial reefs, and other man-made constructions at sea.