Olivia Woolley

The article assesses the United Kingdom’s (uk) legal framework for offshore wind development in light of policy statements of uk Governments that exploitation of this resource should not compromise marine ecosystem functionality. The first part examines the reliance placed on strategic environmental assessment and on permitting for projects to identify and address impacts. It finds that inadequate use has been made of these potentially effective legal tools for preventing ecologically damaging development. The second part considers whether legal requirements for marine spatial planning (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and for improving the condition of Europe’s marine ecosystems (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) bolster the strength of the legal framework for controlling sea uses. It finds encouragement in their holistic approach to regulating the impacts of marine activities, but concludes that they fall short of what would be required to prevent the expansion of the offshore wind sector from causing ecological harm.