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Legal provisions and bodies

1 - The Environment Impact Report: summary

Part of Belwind's permit application was an environment impact report (EIR). In this EIR the impact of the wind farm on the marine environment is studied and described in detail.

 The full study is available in the non-technical summary . Below is a short summary per phase:

Installation phase and decommissioning

The works during the construction (foundations: +/- 6 months) and decommissioning phase (2040) will temporarily cause most disturbance to the area. For a time there will also be more noise, both above and below the water. Some marine mammals and fish living on the seabed are expected to temporarily leave the area.

Operating phase

During the operation any negative effects are offset as much as possible. Erosion is avoided as much as possible by providing erosion protection and monitoring it. The chances of water and seabed pollution are very slim.

What else can we expected? An increased and varying biodiversity by the creation of hard substrates. Apart from some marine mammals and bird species, few animal species will be disrupted by the wind farm. In fact, traditional fishing in the surrounding area should benefit from the operation of the wind farm. 

The wind farm is a long way off the coast and will not spoil the coastal view.

Cables

When the cables are laid on the seabed (with a speed of 1 minute per metre), the seabed and any living animals will be locally disturbed. This impact is limited to the immediate vicinity and goes away after a while.

The effects of the electromagnetic radiation, sound and vibrations and the local warming of the seabed during the operation are uncertain but are also limited to the immediate vicinity.

And the 3 farms together?

The three wind farms together provide a major contribution to Belgium's reduction targets of  SO2, NOx and CO2. 

What is the impact of the three wind farms together? Is this greater than the sum of the 3 farms? By working in different phases the negative effects are minimised as much as possible.

Most users of the North Sea will therefore not experience any disruption of the three wind farms. Certain bird habitats (such as the Auk, Guillemot and Gannet) will get smaller because of the radiating effect of the wind farm.

Underwater noise emissions by wind turbines are restricted to the area between the turbines.

Read the non-technical summary here.

 

2 - Environment Impact Evaluation (EIE)

The environment impact report was evaluated by MUMM, the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models and the Scheldt estuary.

MUMM is a department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), a federal scientific establishment that comes under the Federal Science Policy (previously known as OSTC).

MUMM's environment impact evaluation (EIE) about the Belwind wind farm is available on MUMM's site.

MUMM's recommendations regarding the wind farm to the minister and the draft Conditions and Recommendations are available here.

 

3 - Environment Impact Monitoring (EIM)

In accordance with the awarded Permit and Authorisation, an Environment Impact Monitoring or EIM needs to be conducted for 6 (year 0 + 5 years) years to monitor and measure the impact on the environment. The content of this monitoring package is available here.

Belwind NV has paid EUR 2.3 million for this study to the federal government and is conducting its own studies to the amount of EUR 2 million.

Read the annual execution report here

 

4 - Advisory committee 

The relationship between the power station and the different authorities is managed by a so-called advisory committee.

The advisory committee's objective is to monitor every phase of the construction, operation and decommissioning of the activity, including the cables, and to make sure the law and the permit are respected.

The advisory committee remains in office throughout the term of the activity up until the moment when the minister has approved the restoration after decommissioning.

Who is on the advisory committee?

  • the management (MUMM)
  • a representative of the FGD for Public Health, Safety of the Food chain and Environment – DG Marine Environment
  • a representative of the FGD for the Economy, Middle Classes and Energy appointed by the Minister for Energy.
  • a representative of the FGD Mobility and transport, marine transport
  • the permit holder
  • certification company appointed by the holder and approved by the minister

How often does the committee meet?

 
During the construction and preparatory phase the advisory committee meets at least once before and after every phase.  

During the operational phase, the committee meets at least once a year. The advisory committee can always be convened at the request of one of the members.

If no consensus can be reached in the advisory committee, the management submits the problem to the minister. The committee can also request the assistance of other government departments and/or external experts.

 

5 - Certification company 

The holder establishes a certification company at his own expense. This company ensures that the activity is in accordance with applicable national and international norms and standards.

This company also monitors whether the laid down norms and standards are respected during the design, the construction, the operation (and maintenance) and decommissioning of the installations used for the activity (including the cables and erosion protection).