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Scaling up of offshore windfarms in the North Sea: using cumulative impact assessments for guiding an ecosystem-based approach to management

  • 1 October, 2023
  • Wageningen University, Environmental Policy
  • prof.dr. M. Peck
  • dr. M.L. G.J. Piet

My research project will look at how an ecosystem-based management approach can be (better) applied in the (Dutch) North Sea governance system. It will do so by using ecological scientific data and identifying how this can be translated into strategic policy-making. The research will further place a heavy focus on offshore windfarms; a rapidly emerging sector in the Greater North Sea that will have an effect on its ecosystem state and marine spatial planning of the area (Gusatu et al., 2021).
In the governance system of the (Dutch) North Sea there are many different policy objectives that can work complimentary or have minimal effect to each other, but in some cases can also contend with one another. The rapid emergence of the offshore wind energy sector is largely a result of policy objectives being set to meet international, EU-regional, and national climate goals. At the same time, there are multi-level ecological goals that need to be met and incorporated with the marine spatial planning of the (Dutch) North Sea (Spijkerboer et al., 2020). This research project will thus explore how strategic decision-making capacity can be improved through use of cumulative impact assessments to determine ecosystem changes.
To do so, my research will first map out the governance system (stakeholders, projects, and programs) of the (Dutch) North Sea to build understanding of system dynamics and identify avenues for the (improved) incorporation and implementation of an ecosystem-based management approach. Further focus will be placed on the currently available and identified needs for knowledge (by policy-makers) of ecological impacts on the (Dutch) North Sea. This will be used to improve the cumulative impact assessment framework and tool, that in turn can be used for informed decision-making that takes an ecosystem-based management approach.


Charlotte Scholten

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