Governmental Activism Against Dutch Offshore Windmill Parks

Monday, 16 July 2018: 20:06
Oral Presentation
Imrat VERHOEVEN, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
After the Paris Agreement, national governments push renewable energy more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the national government committed itself to a growth from 4 percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2023. Building large offshore windmill parks is seen as a quick win to achieve these goals.

The plans for these parks have met with great resistance along the Dutch coastal line since they are planned within the 12-mile zone, which makes them visible from the shore. Surprisingly, the resistance is driven by local governments in close collaboration with local action groups. These local governments engage in demonstrations, petitions and rallies. They subsidize local action groups and form action strategies together with them. At the same time, they engage in intense lobby processes with the national ministry and the Dutch parliament.

In a recent article, I called this phenomenon ‘governmental activism’, which refers to both the unconventional political behavior of these municipalities and to their use of apparently conventional political behavior deployed within an activist strategy (Verhoeven & Duyvendak 2017). Although governmental activism is a phenomenon that stretches far beyond climate change measures, I want to focus on how it operates in a political environment that pushes hard for renewable energy. Hence my main question for this paper will be: how does governmental activism work when resisting renewable energy policies? Answers will come from recent fieldwork on governmental activism against a large offshore windmill park in the Netherlands.


Verhoeven, I. & Duyvendak, J.W. (2017). ‘Understanding governmental activism’. Social Movement Studies, 16(5), 564-577.