The draft decisions for sites I and II of the Borssele wind farm zone were made available for consultation on Friday 7 August 2015. Anyone may respond to the draft decisions by filing a ‘view’.

The location for the wind farms and the applicable conditions are determined in the wind farm site decisions. Therefore the contents of these decisions are binding once they are determined. Applications for subsidy and a wind permit that do not comply with the conditions will be rejected. If you are of the opinion that the draft decisions should be amended, you may file a ‘view’ up to and including Thursday, September 17th 2015.

The draft wind farm site decisions may be downloaded from www.bureau-energieprojecten.nl. Views may also be filed via that website. Below, we will briefly discuss several aspects of the draft decisions.

Description of the wind farm zone characteristics

Firstly, very important element of the draft decisions is the description of the zone’s characteristics. In addition to the location of the sites it addresses, for example, the other activities in the zone – such as cables and pipes – and the composition of the seabed. The presence of WW I and WW II explosive devices is discussed as well.  While it is likely that there is unexploded ordnance in the zone, the Ministers do not consider this an impediment to the realisation of the wind farm zone because, with proper risk management, the risks can be brought back to acceptable levels.

Characteristics of the wind farm

The draft wind farm site decisions also contain regulations. Regulation 2, for example, sets out the coordinates within which the wind farm must be situated, the coordinates of the routing of the connection to the Borssele Alpha platform, and the coordinates of the cable and pipe maintenance zones, in which zones no wind turbines may be placed.

Furthermore, regulation 2 contains detailed conditions for the wind farm, such as the maximum number of wind turbines (95) and the required minimum distance between the wind turbines. A maximum and minimum rotor blade surface is prescribed as well, in the aggregate as well as per turbine, along with a minimum tip depth and maximum tip height.

The regulation also provides that the permit holder must make visible efforts “to design and realise the farm in such a way that the farm actively contributes to strengthening a healthy sea and strengthening the preservation and sustainable use of species and habitats naturally occurring in the Netherlands”. To that end an action plan must be drawn up.

Finally, we note that, during repairs and maintenance of telecom cables, the number of rotations per minute per wind turbine of any wind turbine located within a radius of 1,000 metres of the repair/maintenance location must be reduced to less than 1.

Period of validity of the wind permit

Regulation 3 provides that the wind permit is granted for a period of 30 years.

Mitigating measures

Regulation 4 contains a large number of mitigating measures that serve to protect the fauna in the area. These include, for example, measures to be taken during pile-driving: an acoustic deterrent device, a soft start and a noise standard.

Measures to limit the number of collision casualties of birds at rotor level during mass bird migrations, and to prevent the number of collision casualties of bats at rotor level are also prescribed.

Regulation 5 provides that the Minister of Economic Affairs shall draw up a monitoring and evaluation programme. The permit holder is required to cooperate “in so far as reasonable, for no financial consideration”.

Removal of the wind farm

Regulation 6 concerns the removal of the wind farm. The permit holder must remove the wind farm no later than two years after exploitation has ceased.

Financial security

The final regulation (regulation 7) prescribes that the permit holder must provide financial security in the amount of EUR 120,000 per MW before construction is commenced. The permit holder must annually increase this financial security by 2% due to indexation, until such time as the wind farm must be removed.

Conclusion

Only a selection of the relevant obligations has been discussed above. Consequently, for a thorough understanding you are advised to read the full draft wind farm site decision (in any event, the regulations and zone description).

Although the drafts may be amended in response to the filing of views, the frameworks for the wind farms are virtually fixed. Therefore, those who wish to apply for a subsidy and a permit may already proceed to determine the amount of their bid in the subsidy tender, based on the current information.