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Allocation of sea areas to promote offshore wind development in Vietnam

Allocation of sea areas to promote offshore wind development in Vietnam

At the “Offshore wind development for Vietnam’s clean energy future” conference, Mrs. Ngo Thi To Nhien, Executive Director of Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition (VIET SE) raised two issues that need to be specifically considered to promote offshore wind development in Vietnam as below:

  1. For the marine spatial planning, in addition to the six items that have been oriented to ocean zonings, it is necessary to consider the following two groups: (i) The telecommunications cable system in the ocean; (ii) Marine conservation area.
  2. Authority to allocate, recognize and allow the return of the sea area; extension, amendment and supplement of the allocation of sea areas Decision; recover the sea area for the implementation of wind power projects (Article 8 of Decree No. 11/2021/ND-CP).

Based on the scale, investor’s equity and location of offshore wind power project’s sea area, the authority to allocate sea area to implement offshore wind power projects includes the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and  Provincial People’s Committee.

  • The Prime Minister decides to allocate sea area for the implementation of offshore wind power projects under the approval authority or decide on investment policies of the National Assembly and the Government.
  • The MONRE shall decide to allocate sea area for offshore wind project implementation in the following cases (except for cases under the Prime Minister’s authority to allocate sea areas):
    • Offshore wind projects under the investment policies approval authority of the Prime Minister;
    • Offshore wind projects deployed in the inter-regional sea area; the area is beyond 06 nautical miles of sea area;
    • Offshore wind projects are implemented by foreign investors and foreign-invested organizations.
  • The People’s Committee of the coastal province shall decide to allocate the sea area for the implementation of offshore wind power project within 06 nautical miles sea area (except for cases under the approval authority of the Prime Minister and MONRE).

Compared with the provisions in Articles 30 and 31 of 2020 Investment Law on the investment policies approval authority of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister, there are very few (almost none) offshore wind power projects under the authority to make decisions on the investment policy of the National Assembly, the Government and the Prime Minister, except for offshore wind power projects with an investment capital of 5,000 billion VND or more that have been approved by the Prime Minister according to the provisions of the Law on Investment 2014 at Article 31.

Therefore, basically, the authority to allocate the sea area to develop offshore wind power projects belongs to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the People’s Committee of the coastal province. Decree No. 11/2021/ND-CP has stepped up the decentralization of authority to allocate sea areas to local authorities, expanding the authority of the Provincial People’s Committees up to 06 nautical miles compared to Decree 51/2014/ND-CP that was only 3 nautical miles. This also makes it easier for businesses to carry out administrative procedures.

According to the regulations, the State agency has the authority to allocate a sea area also will have the authority to recognize and extend; adjust and supplement the allocation of sea area decisions as well as allow the return and recovery of that sea area. Thus, the Prime Minister, MONRE and the Provincial People’s Committee are competent to recognize and extend; amend and supplement the decision on allocation of sea areas as well as permitting the return and recovery of sea areas corresponding to the above-mentioned cases.

According to the provisions of Clause 3, Article 3 of Decree No. 11/2021/ND-CP: “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment shall determine and announce the average of lowest sea edge in many years, the outer boundary of 03 nautical miles sea area, 06 nautical miles sea area of the mainland and islands that has the largest area in the island districts. Today, the parallel line is no longer used to determine the 3 or 6 nautical mile boundary, so the outer boundary of the 3 nautical mile sea area that was announced in Decision No. 1790/QD-BTNMT dated June 6, 2018 of the MONRE, is no longer complies with the provisions of Decree No. 11/2021/ND-CP because of a change in the determination method, so re-determination and re-declaration are required; MONRE has not yet announced the outer boundary of 03 nautical miles sea area, 06 nautical miles sea area of the mainland and the largest island in the island districts. In addition, up to now, authority state agencies have not yet implemented the demarcation of maritime administrative management boundaries between coastal provinces and centrally-run sea cities.

With the above issues, the determination of offshore wind power projects within 06 nautical miles sea area or outside 06 nautical miles sea area, with a scope in the inter-regional sea at this time will be facing many difficulties, affecting the determination of authority to allocate sea area as well as the implementation of administrative procedures of enterprises.

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