Legal aspects of wind development in high seas ‘must be explored’

Chatham Partners, a law firm specialising in renewable energy, suggests if future technology developments enable wind farms to be built in deep international waters, current legal frameworks would need to be revised.

Wind development in the high seas could unlock significant energy-generating potential but legal issues such as ownership laws need to be more clearly defined.

A new report by Chatham Partners, a law firm specialising in renewable energy, suggests if future technology developments enable wind farms to be built in deep international waters, current legal frameworks would need to be revised.

The high seas sit outside the control of a single nation and make up around half of the surface area of the planet – however, there is a lack of clear rules covering development in the high seas and this is expected to pose a challenge for firms planning to use any of these areas.

The law firm urges the offshore energy industry to call for discussions to form a robust legal framework now and warns if it does not do so, it risks missing the opportunities the high seas could offer in decades to come.

Expected legal issues include right of use, ownership and jurisdiction matters – while building close to shore generally means the relevant state has the remit to govern and authorise projects under their national laws, there is no governing body for the high seas.

Felix Fischer, Partner at Chatham Partners, said: “Without a legal framework, these sites will remain out of reach for developers for decades to come.

“If the high seas should become part of the answer to expanding offshore wind development and contribute to global decarbonisation, building a viable legal framework is critical.”

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