The Dutch government is allocating over EUR 41 million for the next two years to increase safety in the North Sea. The money will be used for various measures to better protect the infrastructure there. This was announced by Minister Mark Harbers (Infrastructure and Water Management) on 10 June.

In the coming years, the infrastructure in the North Sea will be greatly expanded, including wind farms. It is known that certain countries have plans to map and sabotage this and other vital infrastructure such as pipelines and data cables. The Dutch government therefore decided last year to launch the interdepartmental North Sea Infrastructure Protection Programme (Programma Bescherming Noordzee Infrastructuur, PBNI).

Also read: Centre for subsea infrastructure security opens in The Hague

Sensors, radar and satellites

Implementation of the PBNI has already started, but some parts required funding first. Now that that has been arranged for the next two years, those aspects can be taken up as well.

These include placing more sensors and deploying radar and satellites. Systems will also be set up to exchange more and better information with sector parties. With this, the government wants to further improve the visibility of the North Sea and what is happening there so that it becomes more difficult for state actors to conduct covert operations. And should something happen, the government will quickly have a better picture of the situation and relevant agencies will be able to respond more quickly.

The sector has a major role in protecting vital infrastructure at sea, and the government therefore wants to work more closely with private parties to enable them to best protect their infrastructure from threats.

Also read: Dutch navy monitors North Sea infrastructure with minehunter

North Sea authority?

Many agencies have a role in North Sea security: from the navy and coast guard to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police and intelligence services. The government is having a study conducted into whether one national North Sea authority can further enhance security. Separately, an integrated North Sea policy will be worked out in the coming period, so that in every situation it is clear who bears which responsibility.

Cooperation with other countries bordering the North Sea is essential. A letter of intent was already signed recently with the other North Sea countries to deepen cooperation in areas such as information sharing, best practices and joint crisis management. Last week, the first working session took place in the Netherlands, a good start to an important cooperation.

The money now released is meant for the years 2024 and 2025. Decision-making on further investments is up to the new Cabinet.

Picture by Collinpetty, Wikimedia Commons.

Also read: Dutch Defence gets bigger role in protecting North Sea infrastructure