Offshore concessions unveiled

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After a two year moratorium on new projects, the Dutch government has outlined its plans for allocating offshore wind farm permits. Under proposals presented by economics minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, market players can apply for an exclusive permit to build a wind farm in a specific area -- 100 square kilometres maximum -- providing they meet a number of yet-unnamed criteria and pay a deposit up front. Once they have secured a concession, developers must apply for a permit under the Public Works Act. A round of permit allocations based on the proposed system is planned for autumn. Although the Dutch wind industry is pleased the government has abandoned the idea of allocating concessions on the basis of a "beauty contest," it is dissatisfied that proposal criteria are not yet spelled out. Windkoepel, the umbrella organisation of the Dutch offshore wind sector, is worried the uncertainties in the interim policy will lead to a run on all the best locations, driving some of the competitors to take court action to test the legality of the procedure, causing more delays. There has been no mention of the seven permit applications submitted by four market players in 2001; these have yet to be processed by the Department of Public Works. The market players have agreed collectively to ask that these be processed first as a means of gaining experience, both for policy makers and developers.

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