Free passage and shared use
Various claims on space, including the increasing number of such claims made by new wind farm zones, are making things increasingly busy in the North Sea area. There are six wind farms in use in the Dutch section of the North Sea. Over the next few years, up to 2030, at least five wind farms will be added.
In order to be able to continue to provide all functions and fulfil all requirements there is an increasing need to make the transition to multiple functions in a single space and integration of tasks. In the various offshore wind farm zones, this means facilitating 'free passage and shared use'. In that context, free passage for shipping and shared use are like communicating vessels. Where shipping may pass, it is (often) impossible to place fixed structures in the water column and vice versa. In the interests of both transit of shipping and shared use, it will not be possible to have free passage for shipping in the new wind farm zones. The same rules as before will continue to apply, where possible, to the Luchterduinen, Prinses Amalia and Egmond aan Zee Offshore Wind Farms.
The safety of the seafarers and fellow users is paramount. Due to the construction of the new wind farms, it is possible that certain rules for free passage that previously applied in a wind farm no longer apply or change later. It is therefore important to always have the most up-to-date sea chart available before undertaking any voyage or activity on the North Sea and to check what the applicable rules are for the wind farm in question at that time. The rules for free passage and shared use are further explained for each wind farm on the pages of the wind farms concerned.
The term 'shared use in wind farm zones’ covers nature development, food (passive fishing, marine aquaculture) and energy (other forms of renewable energy generation than wind energy: solar panels, tidal energy).
An ‘Area Passport’ guide for the wind farm zones will be produced and will, if possible, coincide with completion of the wind farm. Zoning in this area passport will show where there is space in a wind farm for shared use. Not available for shared use are: lanes for free passage of shipping, maintenance and safety zones around platforms, wind turbines and infield cables, plus logical supply routes for shipping. The remaining space is available for shared use.
Permission must also be acquired in advance for shared use activities in a wind farm that are not governed by the Water Act, such as passive fishing.
A permit must be acquired under the terms of the Water Act before starting any shared use activity. This video explains how to go about this. See also the applications procedure for shared use in brief