Celtic Seas 2050: Spatial Demands and Scenarios

On September 19th the SIMCelt team hosted a workshop in London which explored how different scenarios would influence development and marine planning in the Celtic Seas as part of work on Component 1.2.1: Spatial Demands and Scenarios. Representatives from a wide variety of maritime sectors as well as government authorities attended, giving direct insights into the direction different industries are taking and upcoming challenges of managing demand for marine space.


The workshop focused on five key maritime sectors – these were aquaculture, offshore wind energy, wave and tidal energy, ports and shipping (which are the subjects for a set of sector Briefing Notes being prepared by the University of Liverpool) and marine conservation, which is under consideration by French partners AFB.

At the workshop participants had the chance to discuss how potential changes in policy, different priorities for Celtic Seas countries and other factors such as technology could influence these sectors. Four scenarios were presented to delegates to consider, outlining differing degrees of cooperation by Member States and varied levels of spatial efficiency in marine planning.



Reaching Out represents a scenario of cross border collaboration on a sectoral basis.

Going It Alone imagines a scenario where there is minimal cooperation between countries and expanding sectoral approaches leads to spatially diffuse activities with little coordination to promote efficient use of space.

Joining Forces is perhaps a best case scenario where there is cooperation between member states and a high degree of spatial efficiency, utilising the ecosystem based approach fully

In Sustainable Localism, countries concentrate on developing their own maritime activities and promoting smart use of marine space but there is a lack of transnational cooperation.

These ‘extreme’ scenarios were used to provoke discussion and debate around the future development of different sectors in relation to MSP. How will the economic climate or politics affect offshore renewable energy deployment? How might our future approach to managing MPAs change in light of the UK being a non-Member State?

Delegates were invited to imagine likely future trends and developments in the sectors they were familiar with and place a marker on a grid of the four scenarios to indicate where they though their sector would be by 2050. Then they explored how their sector would interact with others and whether there was likely to be conflict, or if novel ways of sharing space could be found. For example, the issue of an increase in long haul shipping was seen to represent an increased biosecurity risk in terms of conservation and MPAs.

Finally, specific issues with a transnational element were discussed and potential solutions or pathways to resolution were put forward. The potential of designated ‘no-take’ zones co-located where windfarms are planned was suggested and the potential of MSP policy and licensing to facilitate this was discussed. The findings from this workshop will be used to shape a final report on Future Spatial Demand Scenarios in the Celtic Seas which will be published in December.