Transcript of Shipping Safety Film

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Voice-over: Over the next few years we will be working hard on the expansion of wind farm zones in the North Sea. There will be construction on a large scale in order to meet the demand for wind power. However, this construction has consequences, both for shipping and shipping safety. The presence of offshore wind farms slightly increases the risk of collisions between individual vessels. The probability of vessels colliding with wind turbines will rise considerably. Policy in the Netherlands concentrates on maintaining current safety levels and, where possible, improving them. Measures specifically aimed at shipping safety have been taken as a result. The North Sea is the busiest body of water in the world. Sea ports in the Netherlands form junctions in international transport chains. Maritime shipping is of crucial importance to this country and must run smoothly and safely. The construction of wind farm zones has an impact on everyone who uses the North Sea.

Sjaco Pas – Advisor on North Sea policy for the Dutch Coast Guard:

The Dutch section of the North Sea is among the busiest stretches of sea in the world. Anything that can be performed at sea is done in the Netherlands: fishing, recreational boating, offshore activities, wind farms and new initiatives, such as seaweed cultivation, plus the fact that all large-scale West-European ports are pretty much located in the Dutch section of the North Sea. And, even if the vessels aren't calling at Rotterdam or Amsterdam or Antwerp, a large portion of European shipping passes this section of coastline, on our doorstep. The importance to the economy is immense. Traffic intensity is on the rise and, if incidents occur, that may mean damage to a wind farm or to a platform, which could endanger the power supply. But it could also mean that there is an obstacle to passage for shipping, or restricted access to the sea ports. Imagine there is a blockage or a large-scale incident and access to the Port of Rotterdam, for instance, is obstructed. Losses could run to hundreds of millions, and we want to prevent that.

Voice-over: The Offshore Wind Energy Shipping Safety programme is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. It is implemented by Rijkswaterstaat and the Coast Guard. National government focuses on provision of energy from renewable sources and safety on the North Sea. In relation to sustainability: the aim is to obtain at least 27 per cent of all the energy used from renewable and clean sources by 2030, and to achieve 100 per cent sustainable energy by 2050. Wind power makes a large contribution to achieving these targets. So over the next few years we will be working hard to build wind farms in the North Sea. Where safety is concerned: guaranteeing smooth, safe shipping is a pre-condition for the Dutch economy. The number of incidents at sea is small, but an incident at sea can have a great impact for both people and the environment.

Policy highlights being aware of every potential threat and the ability to manage each one. To protect both people and the environment.

Sjaco Pas:

You could see us as the emergency services for the North Sea. It is a very wide area, one and a half times the size of the Netherlands. We have a range of duties; it's as if we were the local police officer for the North Sea. But in the first instance, what we do is to help people and resolve incidents and limit the effects that they cause. We have a package of measures. One of the measures, for instance, is extra sensors at sea. That means real sensors in the wind farm, on the platforms and fitted to the body of the wind turbines, so that we can properly monitor everything that happens there. As a result, you can really tell whether the sailing characteristics of a vessel are different, or that a vessel is doing something unexpected. Before the captain makes a call for help, which would be the normal course of events, we can sometimes already see that a vessel is immobile, or perhaps drifting, so that we can respond more rapidly. At the start of this year we acquired an extra emergency response towing vessel. It's a large sea tug at our disposal so that we can offer immediate help and be on the scene within a few hours. It was specially built with a high bow and can remain at sea for long periods, a vessel that can withstand all the sea has to throw at it in heavy weather.

Voice-over: The situation in the North Sea is unique. Never before has there been offshore construction on this scale. In this respect it is important to keep studying shipping safety. As part of the monitoring and research programme, Rijkswaterstaat looks at whether the expected threats are actually presenting themselves and whether the measures we take are appropriate. Many organisations and ministries are involved in the implementation of these measures. This gives us new insights that we are able to share. Together, we ensure that the North Sea remains safe.