Within the framework of the approval procedure for offshore wind farms in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), potential adverse impacts of the planned facilities on the marine environment have to be assessed. Besides, in line with the German regulation § 3 Abs. 1 Nr. 1 UVPG i.V.m. Anlage 1, Nr. 1.6, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is now mandatory. In the Standard for Environmental Impact Assessments (StUK) at hand, information is provided to applicants on the scope of investigations required by the planning approval/approval authority, with all relevant details and explanations. Likewise, the planning approval/approval holders and operators of wind farms are provided with detailed information about the requirements for operation-phase monitoring, which is currently considered indispensable.
The StUK constitutes a framework of the current thematic and technical minimum requirements for marine environmental surveys and monitoring of constituent criteria as per § 5 Section. 6 No. 2 Seeanlagenverordnung (Marine Facilities Ordinance) from 23 January 1997 (BGBI – German Federal Law Gazette. I p. 57), last amended by Article 11 of the law from 21 January 2013 (BGBI. I p. 95), (hereinafter called SeeAnlV) as well as for monitoring during the construction and operation phase.
The third update of the StUK is based on experience that has been gained with the versions of December 2001, February 2003 and on data from the surveys conducted in the context of the research project “Ökologische Begleitforschung am Offshore-Testfeldvorhaben alpha ventus zur Evaluierung des Standarduntersuchungskonzeptes des BSH – StUKplus” (FKZ: 0327689A), funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Apart from a general increase in knowledge, the findings of environmental monitoring carried out under the German Federal and State monitoring programme in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, the Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area and the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North Sea and North-East Atlantic have been taken into account.
The following international documents based on mutual exchange of information have been published:
- OSPAR Commission (2008). Guidance on Environmental Considerations for Offshore Wind Farm Development (Replaces agreements 2003-16, 2005-2, 2006-5, 2007-9). Reference number: 2008/-3.
- OSPAR Commission (2004). Problems and Benefits Associated with the Development of Offshore Wind-Farms. ISBN 1-904426-48-4.
- OSPAR Commission (2008). Assessment of the environmental impact of offshore windfarms. Reference number: 2008/-385.
- OSPAR Commission (2006). Review of the Current State of Knowledge on the Environmental Impacts of the Location Operation and Removal/Disposal of Offshore Wind-Farms. Reference number: 2006/-278.
It should be noted that this standard, as well as its earlier versions, has been developed in consultation with numerous experts. The fact that various concepts discussed in the course of the decision making process have not been considered in the StUK does not imply any criticism of such concepts. The planning approval/approval authority, after having consulted the experts and having studied the different concepts, in each case selected one of several possible solutions and also allowed alternatives considered suitable for the procedure.