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Understanding specific cross border issues in MSP (Offshore Renewable Energy and Shipping & Navigation)


This case study was developed as part of the SIMCelt project to complement three other case studies which explored how transboundary interaction is approached in the Celtic Seas. It was informed by the need to avoid conflicts and enhance the potential for co-existence, the international nature of shipping, the different governance structures and processes in the planning of Offshore Renewable Energy as well as its increasing demand for space informed this case study. It therefore presents issues and opportunities within the shipping & navigational safety and offshore renewable energy sectors in the MSP process. It also discusses the offshore wind and the Shipping & Navigation sectors, their trends, policy drivers and how it informs MSP. The second section discusses issues, gaps and opportunities identified through interviews with key sectoral and planning authorities. Practical recommendations that maritime spatial planners and sectoral agencies should consider to ensure sectoral integration at national and transboundary level for both sectors are also presented.

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:

  • What are the driving policies and approaches to planning (sectoral and maritime spatial planning) in the Celtic Seas?
  • Which cross sectoral issues should be considered in transboundary MSP?
  • What are the navigational safety issues that should be considered by maritime spatial planners?
  • How to ensure cross sectoral integration at national and transboundary level?

Implementation Context:

The study was undertaken as part of a series of case studies that formed part of the SIMCelt project. The results from the case study is based on the experience of the sectoral agencies for which some have been involved in the MSP process. Other agencies with less experience in MSP had operational experience from other sectoral planning processes. Therefore, the recommendations from the case study should be used as a high-level reference document for Member States already advanced in MSP and those who are starting the process.

Aspects / Objectives:

The objective of the case study was to understand issues and opportunities within the shipping & navigation and offshore renewable energy sectors within the MSP process. It culminates with practice-focused recommendations that are aimed at supporting marine planners in the implementation of MSP and the effective, coherent planning of both sectors across the entire Celtic Seas region. 


The case study involved desk study and semi structured interviews with key sectoral agencies. Twosemi structured interviews (offshore wind and shipping & Navigation) were developed in order to gather information from the identified competent authorities for shipping & navigational safety and offshore renewable energy. Interview questions focused on the following issues:

  1. Involvement of sectoral agencies with maritime spatial planning to date, 
  2. Data for maritime spatial planning, 
  3. The use of AIS data in MSP, 
  4. Navigational risks from the development of offshore renewable energy, 
  5. Co-location of activities within marine plans, 
  6. Cross sectoral working groups, 
  7. Recommended time scales for the review of marine plans 
  8. The role of MSP in addressing current challenge, 

Sectoral Agencies interviewed included Commissioners of Irish Lights (ROI and NI), Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (ROI), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UK), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (NI), The Crown Estate (England, Wales and NI), Marine Scotland (Scotland), Préfet Maritime of the Atlantic (FR)

Main Outputs: 

The main output from the case study include the following:

  1. An overview and state of play of offshore wind, shipping and navigation in relation to MSP in the Celtic Sea. This included maps showing the footprint of these sectors (see below)
  2. Pertinent and specific cross sectoral issues and opportunities to be considered in MSP 
  3. Practice and policy-based recommendations intended for use by marine planners and sectoral agencies in addition to other guidelines to support the implementation of MSP at national level and facilitate transboundary approaches to MSP 
    Examples of study results


The following are some of the results from the case study:

  • Sectoral and regulatory agencies have experience in other marine and sectoral planning processes which has both relevance and importance to future MSP design, implementation and enforcement. 
  • Legislation, policies, structures and approaches to ORE planning and MSP are different between Member States and this has implications for fostering a more coordinated approach in future.
  • Planning authorities can support co-existence by ensuring that planning and design layouts of offshore wind farms consider the use of space in relation to shipping lanes for recreational users, fishing vessels and aquaculture installations.
  • Search and Rescue (SAR) is a key issue for offshore wind farm layouts, the marking of such sites and sequential numbering of the turbines must be carried out with the relevant navigation and safety agency during the pre-planning/development stage of ORE infrastructure to mitigate risks such as choke points and foster cross border coherency.
  • Experience from the UK shows that planning offshore wind farms in straight lines (at least a two-line) of orientation is the most preferable form 

The following recommendations are presented in page 46 to 48 of the case study:

  1. Continuous engagement and dialogue between competent Authorities for MSP and sectoral agencies at national and transboundary should be encouraged to jointly discuss policy measures with navigational safety agencies to mitigate navigational risks arising from the development of ORE.
  2. Authorities should be mindful that small vessels do not have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and are not covered in AIS density maps which has implications for ad++equate representation of traffic density in a particular area.
  3. Stakeholder engagement, local knowledge and the use of VMS and radar are important to account for vessels not carrying AIS, based on best practices in Ireland and the UK
  4. The AtoN strategy and IALA guidelines on MSP must be applied during the pre- planning and development stage of OREIs to mitigate risks such as choke points and foster cross border coherency
  5. Cross Sectoral Working Groups at national level should be encouraged and used as platforms to consider operational cross sector/border issues such as mitigating risks, conflicts and facilitating transboundary engagement for MSP.
  6. Planning authorities and sectoral agencies should ensure that mapping/analysis of the marine area and development proposals consider existing, approved, proposed uses and associated infrastructure (within the bounds of their marine area and that of neighbouring countries) so that planning of infrastructure is representative of needs on both sides of a border.
  7. Member States that are beginning to develop Maritime Spatial Plans should harness the experience of sectoral agencies and build upon this in the implementation of MSP


Both the methodology and the recommendations from the case study presents issues and approaches which are largely applicable in other areas in Europe due to the cross-border approach taken.

Responsible Entity:

University College Cork 

Contact person:

Joseph Onwona Ansong 

Email: (joa[at]sustainable-project[dot]eu)

Phone: +49 30 832 1417 42


Anne Marie O’Hagan

Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI)

University College Cork

Email: (a[dot]ohagan[at]ucc[dot]ie)

Phone: +353 (0)21 486 4325

Costs / Funding Source:

 The SIMCelt project was co funded by the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries