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Potential for collaboration between wind energy and MSP


MASPNOSE acted as a facilitator and platform for parties to establish contacts for future cooperation and to resolve potential conflicts. The methodology used was: 1. desktop study and exchange of relevant material between MASPNOSE partners and governmental stakeholders; 2. interviews with relevant governmental stakeholders from both countries; 3. workshops to exchange ideas and test options for a common vision and the 10 EU key principles on MSP. The result was agreement on common priorities for the area, i.e. an economic scenario for renewable energy with environmental benefits.

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

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How can we approach cross-border MSP on the Thornton Bank?
  • How can MSP support wind energy development and conflict resolution?
  • How appropriate are the EU principles for MSP in supporting cross-border planning?

Implementation Context

MASPNOSE was a preparatory action on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the North Sea. MASPNOSE facilitated two concrete, cross-border MSP case studies on the North Sea: 1) the Belgian-Dutch collaboration on the Thornton Bank in the southern North Sea, and 2) the development of an international fisheries management plan for the Dogger Bank in the central North Sea. This practice report focusses on the initial case study for the Thornton Bank.

The Thornton Bank is shared by Belgium and the Netherlands, and both countries are developing offshore wind projects within their respective sea areas. They also face comparable constraints for example with regard to intense shipping activity.

The focus of this case study was on the process that necessary to lead to cross border co-operation on integrating MSP and wind energy development.

Location of the Thornton Bank (Maritime Institute, Ghent University)

Aspects / Objectives

  • to develop a strategy and define a set of common objectives for MSP in a cross-border area;
  • to explore and visualize different opportunities and constraints for further development of the case study area;
  • to develop a test case of the function and usefulness of MSP and its 10 key principles in this particular cross-border area; and
  • to encourage & facilitate cross-border cooperation.


The initial stage identified the governmental stakeholders relevant to deal with transboundary MSP in the case study area and to involve them in the project, and explore transboundary cooperation. The case study aimed to develop a vision and define a set of common objectives for MSP in a cross-border area; to develop and visualize different agenda options and solutions for cross-border issues; and to develop a model test case of the function and usefulness of MSP in a cross-border area.

Main Outputs / Results

Report on-line at:…

General Conclusions:

  • Common objectives for the Thornton Bank area: economic scenario for renewable energy with environmental benefits;
  • Setup a coordination body for MSP at national level;
  • Cross-border consultations requires the synchronizing of planning cycles;
  • Make full use of existing consultation opportunities of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA);
  • Informal communication is often more effective than formal structures in a pre-planning phase;
  • Invite stakeholders at the appropriate time (when a "stake" will be potentially affected);
  • Invest in the development of a common language. For example, the concept 'monitoring' has a very different meaning in Belgium and The Netherlands.


The report has most relevance to the North Sea, and particularly to The Netherlands and Belgium and their plans for wind farm development in bordering sea areas, but important lessons can be learned for addressing similar issues across Europe.

Contact Person

Dr Saskia Hommes

Researcher / advisor

Governance and Spatial Planning


PO Box 85467

3508 Al Utrecht

The Netherlands

+31(0)6 101 998 79

Responsible Entity

IMARES Waginengen, Wageningen University, LEI Wageningen UR

Costs / Funding Source