Nature and communities missing from draft MEP report on offshore renewables

Posted on June, 16 2021

WWF calls on MEPs to urgently bring in the critically missing environmental and socio-economic dimensions of these topics to the report.
A draft European Parliament report on offshore renewable energy makes no mention of the environment or coastal communities, despite their importance to achieving a truly sustainable energy system. The report is non-legislative but, if adopted in plenary, would constitute the European Parliament’s answer to the European Commission’s offshore renewables Strategy from November 2020. 

Alexandre Cornet, Ocean Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office said: “Astoundingly, the report refers to WWF’s input yet fails to reflect this input in any way. Increasing offshore renewable energy is necessary to meet the EU’s climate and energy targets, but this must not be done at the expense of environmental protection in European seas. What’s more, it should not compromise the existing nature targets of the Biodiversity Strategy or leave anyone behind as promised in the European Green Deal. It is essential that the wellbeing of people and the environment are at the forefront of our transition to sustainable renewable energy.”

Tremendous efforts at EU level are required to provide the right conditions for substantially increasing renewable energy capacity to at least 50% by 2030 to achieve a fully decarbonised economy by 2040.The development of offshore renewables adds to the already numerous other economic activities in European seas, which compounds pressures on marine ecosystems. Offshore renewable energy development must, therefore, be considered within the broader context of our ocean’s degrading health due to overexploitation of resources, pollution, acidification and habitat destruction, to name but a few.

Cornet continued, “The roll-out of offshore renewable energy in Europe should contribute to a fair and inclusive energy transition. From a governance perspective, it is essential that this report emphasises the need for transparent and participatory decision-making processes, including all relevant stakeholders from an early stage, the absence of which would most likely result in public acceptance issues and delays. These are key elements for ensuring a truly sustainable deployment of offshore energy infrastructure in Europe, which must be reflected in the European Parliament’s views on this crucial topic for meeting the EU’s sustainability goals.”

Positively, however, the report stresses the need for collaboration between Member States, warning that “failure to increase [this] collaboration will inhibit the roll-out of offshore energy”. This cooperation extends beyond offshore renewables to overlap with the work of Member States on their national Maritime Spatial Plans, as well as climate and energy plans, which the report also acknowledges. WWF also agrees that research should be facilitated to support the development of various forms of offshore renewable energies in addition to wind, such as tidal, wave and current stations mentioned in the draft. 

The deadline for tabling amendments to the draft report is set to 6 July 2021. WWF calls on MEPs to urgently bring in the critically missing environmental and socio-economic dimensions of these topics to the report.

To learn more about WWF’s recommendations on offshore renewable energy in the EU, please read our latest position paper on offshore renewable energy and nature in Europe.
The Ormonde Offshore Windfarm in the Irish Sea
© Global Warming Images / WWF