Britain is joining forces with the European Union to protect offshore wind farms and pipelines from Vladimir Putin in a new security pact.

The proposals include joint patrols using drones, as well as sharing information and intelligence to protect power supplies across the Continent from the Russian President.

The Telegraph says the move follows reports last week that Russian spy ships were mapping wind farms and key communication cables in the North Sea as part of plans to possibly sabotage them.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s President, warned yesterday that the bloc's critical infrastructure is “under threat”.

Speaking on the sidelines of the North Sea Summit with EU leaders in Ostend, Belgium on Monday, Grant Shapps, the UK Energy Secretary, said: “We are increasing international co-operation. We are reviewing measures, including drones.”

He added that Britain has “ramped up monitoring of the situation” to protect infrastructure.

Need to protect

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, told the summit: “As the past year has brutally shown, we need to effectively protect our offshore industry. The EU and Nato play an important role.”

Leaders from nine countries including Germany, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands met to plan a major expansion of offshore wind in the North Sea at the summit.

They want to turn the North Sea into a major renewable energy hub as part of plans to cut carbon emissions and cut reliance on Russian gas.

The Kremlin’s decision to weaponise gas supplies to Europe since its invasion of Ukraine has accelerated efforts in Europe to move to cleaner energy.

Plans under discussion include a new 1.8 gigawatt (GW) electricity cable connecting the Netherlands and the UK to each other's power markets and to wind turbines in the middle.

The nine countries are aiming for a combined 120GW of North Sea offshore wind capacity by 2030 – enough to power millions of homes – and 300GW by 2050.

Fresh vulnerabilities

However, the new turbines and cables also create fresh vulnerabilities, given the risk they could be damaged by hostile actors – potentially causing blackouts.

Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister, warned that European countries faced an unprecedented threat from saboteurs as critical infrastructure plans for the North Sea are accelerated.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: “When we started building wind farms many years ago, this threat was not on the horizon.

“We need to better organise ourselves monitoring it and then, while building new parks, we can do security by design.

“It’s a whole new domain we hadn’t talked about a year ago."

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