Coexistence dilemmas in European marine spatial planning practices. The case of marine renewables and marine protected areas
The question whether coexistence of marine renewable energy (MRE) projects and marine protected areas (MPAs) is a common spatial policy in Europe and how a number of factors can affect it, has been addressed by empirical research undertaken in eleven European marine areas. Policy drivers and objectives that are assumed to affect coexistence, such as the fulfillment of conservation objectives and the prioritization of other competing marine uses, were scored by experts and predictions were crosschecked with state practice. While in most areas MRE-MPA coexistence is not prohibited by law, practice indicates resistance towards it. Furthermore expert judgment demonstrated that a number of additional factors, such as the lack of suitable space for MRE projects and the uncertainty about the extent of damage by MRE to the MPA, might influence the intentions of the two major parties involved (i.e. the MRE developer and the MPA authority) to pursue or avoid coexistence. Based on these findings, the interactions of these two players are further interpreted, their policy implications are discussed, while the need towards efficient, fair and acceptable MRE-MPA coexistence is highlighted.