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Safety Zones around offshore renewable energy developments

Fishery Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW)


Safety zones are granted by DECC or the MMO during the construction, maintenance and decommissioning phases of an OREI development, in order to safeguard the safety of other users of the marine environment and the OREI itself. Once the project is fully constructed and operating normally, operational safety zones are only approved if there is a clear justification for their implementation.

Application in MSP:
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Questions this practice may help answer

What are the requirements for “safety zones” and “exclusion zones” in the UK and how can these best be agreed and communicated?

Implementation Context

The Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW), led by The Crown Estate (UK) aims to address matters arising from the interaction of the fishing and offshore renewable energy industries, to promote and share best practice, and to encourage liaison with other sectors in the marine environment.

In 2008, FLOWW published the first “Fishing Liaison Best Practice guidance for offshore renewables developers” to ensure effective communication at all stages in the development and operation of offshore renewable energy installations (OREI). Following the subsequent growth in the offshore renewable energy industry, FLOWW revised and updated this guidance to take account of the experience so far and new issues that may have emerged.

The guidance is intended for OREI developers and the commercial fishing industry, and draws on the extensive experience gained through the development of the first three offshore wind leasing rounds in the UK  (Rounds 1, 2 and 3), as well as the emerging wave and tidal sector.

This description specifically highlights the practice of establishing zones of exclusion around offshore renewable energy installations as described in the FLOWW guidance.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Provide sufficient information to allow OREI developers and the fishing industry to have constructive discussions about the potential impacts and interactions between the sectors in the planning, construction and operation of OREIs.
  • Provide an overview of the fishing and renewable energy industries, including the process for consenting projects in the UK
  • Provide guidance on liaising from planning through to operation of offshore wind farms.
  • Clarifies the difference between “safety zone” and “exclusion zone”

Within the overall document, as described in Practice Number 037, Section 8 sets out descriptions of safety zones and exclusion zones, the legal basis of these respectively, and how they are defined and negotiated.


FLOWW brought together a wide range of stakeholders, authorities, experts, industry representatives, etc., in order to review the experience and issues in relation to OREI’s and the fishing industry and to draft the guidance document. The guidance is an updated version of a previous report, and there is suggestion that it will be updated further (e.g. to account for new and emerging technologies such as floating offshore wind).

Main Outputs / Results



Can the practice be applied in other contexts? What makes the practice transferable? What are enabling factors to have in place to ensure practice can work in another context?

The guidance focusses specifically on the definition of safety / exclusion zones in the UK context. It would be appropriate for a similar group of stakeholders to be established within different member state jurisdictions, or even at a North Sea scale, to review the legislative requirements within their own jurisdictions, and share experience where practicable.

Further, the report focusses on offshore wind, wave and tidal, and would need to be updated to address new technologies (such as floating offshore wind) in particular, and the guidance does not cover tidal barrage developments. It covers all aspects of projects, including substations, cabling (array and export) and grid connections.

Contact Person

Harriet Nicholls

Acting Secretariat, The Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW).

Email: (Harriet[dot]Nicholls[at]thecrownestate[dot]co[dot]uk)


Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW), facilitated by a secretariat funded by The Crown Estate.


The Crown Estate. Direct costs of its elaboration are unknown.