NGOs send letter to the Prime Minister

‘Dear Prime Minister

We support your ambition for large-scale expansion of offshore renewable energy generation but— in the context of a climate and nature emergency—it is vital this does not happen at the expense of our marine environment. Climate and nature must be prioritised in the future uses and planning of the North Sea and our marine habitats. The current planning and consenting regime for offshore wind and other marine activities is not fit for purpose. It fails to take a strategic view of how energy infrastructure, fisheries and other marine activities can be accommodated in a way that enables fragile and degraded ecosystems to recover.

As our seas become more crowded with turbines, fishing activities and other development, this approach will become completely unsustainable. Without reform, the seabed will be razed, food webs will be destroyed, blue carbon stores will be squandered, foraging and flightpaths will be disrupted. Species extinction is a real risk if we do not adopt an approach to planning, consenting and grid development that prioritises zero carbon power and nature recovery over other uses of the sea.

To meet carbon budgets and support healthy and wildlife-rich seas, the marine planning system must be overhauled to operate at a strategic level, rather than on a project by project basis. Offshore wind infrastructure can be designed sensitively for nature and blue carbon if a transparent system of strategic and spatial planning of future offshore wind and associated grid infrastructure is put in place. Each new development must be planned in the light of better mapping and data about the habitats affected and the cumulative effects of multiple activities. Alongside energy development, a more strategic approach is needed’ … read the rest of the letter here.

Read the Commentary in the Guardian here

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