The views of Ireland’s south coast fishing industry and coastal residents are being sought as part of a statutory public consultation on offshore wind energy developments.

Ireland’s Department of Environment, Climate and Communications says that the initial proposed geographical area is about 8,600km2, extending from the high water mark on Ireland’s south coast to the 80m depth contour and/or the edge of the Irish EEZ.

The public consultation follows the publication of the department’s south coast Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP), which outlines the geographical area within which offshore renewable energy developments ‘could be advanced’.

The DMAP proposal was published in August by minister for environment Eamon Ryan as the first of a series in the Irish government’s ‘plan-led’ system for offshore wind energy.

His department says this system, where the Irish state rather than commercial entities selects appropriate development sites, is ‘consistent with the approach to offshore wind development currently deployed throughout the EU’.

“Practitioners of this plan-led approach to development site designation include the Netherlands and Denmark, which are arguably the two EU countries with the most mature offshore wind sectors,” the department has said.

Selection of this south coast area for the first DMAP has been influenced by grid and transmission factors.

It ‘reflects analysis carried out by Ireland’s transmission system operator, EirGrid, that there is sufficient current available onshore grid capacity to connect 900MW of offshore wind capacity to the onshore transmission system along the south coast’, the department said.

It has appealed to local communities and community

organisations, individual local participants, representative bodies from the fishing and seafood sector, environmental organisations and business groups within the counties Waterford, Wexford and Cork to participate in the public consultation.

The department said that the marine area of the DMAP proposal will be ‘further refined’ following the initial public consultation, which will include expert environmental impact assessments and analysis.

“Following this public information period, a draft DMAP will then be published in autumn 2023, which will identify specific areas for future offshore renewable energy development,” it said.

“The draft DMAP and accompanying environmental assessments will then undergo a further six-week statutory public consultation period in the autumn, before the draft DMAP is presented to the minister
for housing and both houses of the Oireachtas for approval.” Ireland’s housing minister is responsible for marine planning.

The public consultation will run until 26 September, and includes face to face public information events at a number of venues within counties Waterford, Wexford and Cork.

Further information on these events will be available here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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