ASN first financial institution to sign covenant to protect biodiversity in offshore wind farms

This week, ASN Bank was the first financial institution to sign the Biodiversity Covenant of nature organisations North Sea Foundation (Stichting de Noordzee) and Natuur & Milieu. The Covenant stipulates that nature conservation and reinforcement will be taken into account in funding applications for wind farms.

In the coming years, new wind farms will be built in the North Sea to meet the climate targets. The government even wants to almost double the target for offshore wind by 2030. This increase in wind farms provides plenty of sustainable energy, but can also have a negative impact on nature. If the ecological risks caused by offshore wind energy are not sufficiently taken into account and opportunities for nature enhancement thanks to offshore wind energy are not seized, there is a great risk that this development will eventually come into conflict with North Sea nature.

Nature enhancement

The design of wind farms and the promotion of biodiversity go well together. Nature can be protected by minimising the impact of underwater noise, for example, and even enhanced by building installations in such a way that, for example, oysters can attach themselves to the base of a wind turbine. Offshore wind farms thus have the potential to become a breeding ground for biodiversity.

On 30 January 2020, knowledge about the impact of offshore wind farms on underwater biodiversity and the identification of opportunities to strengthen this underwater biodiversity through applied scientific research was recorded in the covenant “The Rich North Sea”. In addition to initiators Natuur & Milieu and North Sea Foundation, this covenant has meanwhile been signed by Eneco, Tennet, Van Oord, Ørsted and Blauwwind.

First financier to sign the Covenant

Financiers also form an important link in the value chain of the energy transition linked to the sea. By signing the Biodiversity Covenant, ASN Bank shows that wind farm financiers can impose stricter requirements on nature-inclusive construction and actively declares its support for a sustainable North Sea, in which the generation of wind energy goes hand in hand with the protection and strengthening of nature as much as possible.

“Nature-inclusive construction is the starting point for us when financing wind farms and infrastructure in the North Sea. Nature provides us with valuable functions and that is in the interest of our economy and our well-being. ASN Bank has been committed to the underwater nature of the North Sea since 2018 by supporting the Rich North Sea project. By signing this covenant, we want to inspire other financiers to do the same. We have a co-determining role when it comes to protecting and strengthening biodiversity. Let’s make sure that nature conservation and strengthening of offshore wind farms becomes common practice throughout the sector.”

Arie Koornneef, Director ASN Bank

“Stichting De Noordzee wants to create a movement in which governments, industry, financiers and investors actively contribute to improving nature in wind farms. This is how we will achieve a sustainable North Sea, in which energy transition and nature transition reinforce each other. This covenant is an important step in this process. I am pleased that ASN Bank has signed it and hope that other financial institutions and investors will follow. In this way, we can ensure a healthy North Sea together!”

Albert Jaap van Santbrink, Director of The North Sea Foundation

“Without the wind farms in the North Sea we cannot make our society more sustainable. They are indispensable in the energy transition. At the same time, we want to protect and strengthen the Netherlands’ largest nature area, with all the developments taking place in the North Sea. This covenant is an important step towards making that happen. I sincerely hope that many financiers and investors will be inspired by ASN Bank and join us in providing enough renewable energy and a North Sea full of life!”

Dorien Ackerman, Director of campaigns Natuur & Milieu

The North Sea Foundation and Natuur & Milieu will enter into discussions with other financiers and investors of offshore wind farms to continue the movement that started with this signing. The goal is for nature conservation and reinforcement building to become the standard in funding applications for the construction of wind farms and related infrastructure in the North Sea. The next step is for wind farm owners themselves to take nature into account when designing these wind farms, so that the wind farms ultimately become a breeding ground for biodiversity. Source: North Sea Foundation Image: From left to right: Dorien Ackerman (Natuur & Milieu), Albert Jaap van Santbrink (North Sea Foundation) and Arie Koornneef (ASN Bank) Photo: Phil Nijhuis

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