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Comparison of North Sea EIAs and SEAs of maritime spatial plans and wind energy development - An analysis of similarities and differences between North Sea countries in benefit of the SEANSE project


This study, conducted within the SEANSE project, provides an overview of the similarities and differences between North Sea countries regarding current SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) and EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) contents with respect to cumulative effects assessment for offshore wind farms. 


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:


  • How are North Sea countries conducting SEA and EIA for offshore wind projects?
  • What are considered as the most common pressures in SEAs and EIAs for offshore wind projects in the North Sea?
  • How can SEAs or EIAs be conducted for offshore wind projects?
  • What are the common models and methodologies to conduct SEAs and EIAs for offshore wind projects


This comparison study was conducted as part of the SEANSE project, whose objective was to "develop a coherent (logical and well-organised) approach to Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) with a focus on renewable energy in support of the development and effective implementation of MSPs."


The main goal of this study is to detect similarities and differences in the systematic approach (methodologies) within SEA and EIA reports concerning the assessment of cumulative ecological effects of offshore wind farms in the North Sea.


This study is based on the systematic review of SEA and EIA reports published between 2011 and 2018 in each of the four countries studied. These were analysed through a set of 14 key questions defined beforehand by members of the SEANSE Project, with regard to stressors and receptors (species/habitat) considered, scales, data used and calculation methodologies.


The study underlines the relative homogeneity of SEA and EIA approaches in the four countries studied, concerning pressures taken into account in SEAs and species considered in EIAs. It, however, points at differences in terms of scales considered, as well as unequal integration of transboundary issues. It also highlights country-specific issues on some species, habitats or human activities.


Considering the advanced stage of development of offshore wind energy production in the North Sea, the detailed description of North Sea countries SEA and EIA approaches can serve as an input for the definition of best-practices for other countries.

Responsible Entity:

Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management - Netherlands

Funding Source:

Co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

Contact person:

Rijkswaterstaat Sea and Delta
Lange Kleiweg 34
2288 GK Rijswijk
The Netherlands