Wind Energy Ireland has welcomed publication of the country’s National Marine Planning Framework and Maritime Area Planning Bill
Ireland has a target to develop 5.0 GW of offshore wind energy by the end of 2030 and establishing a planning system for projects is essential.
Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe said, “The National Marine Planning Framework and Maritime Area Planning Bill have been a long time coming, but they are very welcome nonetheless and the government deserves credit for bringing them forward.
“We will be writing to the leader of every political party in the Dáil to urge them to prioritise the passage of the Maritime Area Planning Bill.
“The Oireachtas (Ireland’s national parliament) must give it the proper, robust, scrutiny required of every piece of legislation but, if TDs meant what they said during the debate on the Climate Action Bill, it should be pushed to the top of the agenda.”
Responding to publication of the much anticipated plans, Cornwall Insight consultant Cathal Ryan said, “This is a very welcome development for the offshore wind industry in Ireland.
“Up to now, renewable technology was limited to within 12 nautical miles from the shore. This bill paves the way for setting up the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA), which will have responsibility for granting, consenting and monitoring offshore wind development. It will provide clarity and a single point of contact for all related matters for offshore wind developers.
“The offshore wind industry would hope this bill will be followed closely by the next set of enablers for the offshore wind industry, such as the grid connection process, Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auctions, and seabed leasing regimes.
“In addition, the National Marine Planning Framework will enable the sustainable development of offshore wind assets and the associated grid infrastructure necessary. Both elements of the announcement are key to Ireland achieving its 2030 targets, along with our stated goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.”
Mr Ryan said, “This will finally allow for sustainable development outside the foreshore, allowing for the protection of the environment while also assisting Ireland on the road to net-zero by 2050.
“The speed at which MARA is set up will be key as our offshore wind resource is vast, and the bulk of Ireland’s potential lies outside the 12 nautical mile limit.
“Also, the offshore grid connections process, future RESS auctions for offshore wind technology and further seabed leasing will enable large amounts of renewable energy to be ‘tapped’ from our vast ocean resource.”
The legislation was unveiled by Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD on 1 July 2021. The framework – which will apply to a maritime area of approximately 495,000 km² – outlines a vision for how the government wants to use seas in the years up to 2040. The Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021 was approved by the Irish cabinet on 29 June.