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Likely objections about “visual impact” would hamper any attempts to develop offshore wind farms in Northern Ireland for the time being, according to a new Stormont report.

As BBC News reports, the paper from the Department for the Economy highlights “significant issues” with regard to expected objections to wind farm projects within 13km of the shore.

As well as “visual impact”, there are also concerns relating to protected habitats around Northern Ireland’s coastline.

Northern Ireland has been exclused from the Crown Estate’s latest leasing round for such schemes. It had been hoped that the coast from Carlingford Lough to Belfast Lough would be considered for leasing.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

Fourteen sailing clubs across Northern Ireland have been given a unique opportunity by RYANI to grow and develop their clubs.

Through the Focus Clubs programme, each of the selected clubs will receive support from RYANI so that they can focus on development, explore funding support for participation programmes and promote activities that they will be running.

In 2019, the following clubs will benefit from the programme:

The initiative was established to help clubs to develop into world class clubs.

RYANI active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “The Focus Clubs programme is a fantastic initiative where we help clubs to sustainably grow and support their active membership.

“At RYANI we work with the club and provide support so that they can maximise the good work they are already doing and identify opportunities to grow membership further.

“We are delighted to be able to run this initiative for the third year, with support from Sport Northern Ireland and the National Lottery.

“It is programmes like this that really add value and help to increase opportunities and the number of people taking part in sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.”

In 2018, Focus Clubs membership grew by an average of 8.1% on the previous year.

RYANI says the programme and support are not only about helping bring new members in, but also allowing clubs to deliver activity from which all their members will benefit.

Published in Sailing Clubs

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has voted unanimously to approve the installation of water-cleaning Seabins along the coastline north of Belfast Lough, as the Larne Times reports.

Harbours and marinas from Carrickfergus to Carnlough are now expected to benefit from the revolutionary water-cleaning devices — a single one of which has the potential to collect half a tonne of rubbish, or more than 80,000 plastic bags, from the water surface each year.

As reported by the Belfast Telegraph last September, Ards and North Down councillors were planning to bring in 10 Seabins to help clean up harbours and marinas around the peninsula.

In the Republic, the latest Seabins may soon come to Howth thanks to a local crowdfunding campaign that follows young anti-litter figurehead Flossie Donnelly’s successful awareness and fundraising efforts in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#Lifeguards - The RNLI is in search of new recruits to spend the summer working on some of Northern Ireland’s most popular beaches, as applications open for 2018’s beach lifeguards and face-to-face fundraisers.

Both roles are essential in supporting the RNLI to reduce the number of people who drown on our coasts, and to help keep people safe by providing essential local safety advice to the millions of holidaymakers who visit the beaches every summer.

RNLI lifeguards patrol 11 beaches along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down including Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Ballycastle, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

At the forefront of the RNLI’s lifesaving work, they responded to 235 incidents and helped 255 people in 2016. Successful applicants receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, as well as developing transferable skills.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Karl O’Neill says: “Working as a lifeguard has got to be one of the best summer jobs – you get to call the beach your office for a start! But far more importantly than that, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way.

“This is a demanding job requiring commitment, skill and a clear head. We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to draw on their training and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role.”

The RNLI is also recruiting face-to-face fundraisers, who’ll work alongside lifeguards to provide beach visitors with important safety advice, playing a vital role in saving lives by educating the public on risks at the coast.

Applicants will need to be dynamic and act as a positive ambassador – encouraging support for this lifesaving charity is just one of the things these fundraisers will do this summer season.

Neal Somerville, RNLI face-to-face manager, says: “A good fundraiser generally has to be friendly and relaxed, but also energetic, able to talk to anyone and be passionate about what they do.

“We provide quality training which ensures new fundraisers feel confident and capable in the role. Developing new skills, working in a team at the beach for a national charity is really has to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs.”

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply to be part of our amazing lifesaving teams at summerjobs.rnli.org or search for #BestSummerJob on Facebook and Twitter.

Published in Water Safety

#MarineWildlife - A retired coastguard volunteer has spoken of the “amazing” experience of helping a stranded whale to safety in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (3 October).

As BBC News reports, commercial diver John Lowry diverted from his commute home to the scene, on a sandbank near Newcastle promenade in Co Down, and immediately set to work.

“The first thing I did was to try and get the head of the whale pointed out to sea, so that if I could get him to move that he was going directly out to sea,” he said, explaining how minke whales are easily disoriented when stranded.

Lowry spent up to 15 minutes slowly and painstakingly urging the whale forward with each small wave — until finally it kicked into deeper water, much to the delight of locals and children who were watching the ordeal.

However, Lowry offered a word of caution for anyone else thinking of attempting a similar rescue.

“Don't approach [a whale] unless you have experience of this kind of thing, because they are very powerful,” said the Newcastle man, who previously helped save a beached whale when he served with South Down Coastguard.

In other news, a whale died in the waters between Ireland and Scotland coast after getting entangled in a rope — the first such recorded occurrence in 25 years.

According to Deadline News, the Northern Bottlenose whale — a species rarely sighted in the waters of the continental shelf — was found with wounds caused by rope, and is though to have drowned before it washed up at Ardentinny in Western Scotland in late September.

“Entanglement is known to be a global problem particularly for large whales,” says the Scottish Marine Stranding Scheme.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Kayaking - A Northern Irish businessman has spoken out over what he claims is lack of support from the Alliance Party for an indoor kayaking facility in East Belfast.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, jewellery retail entrepreneur Peter Boyle says he expects a refusal of his application to retain a marquee at a restored 50-yard pool in the grounds of Ormiston House, currently being used by the Belfast Kayaking Academy.

Boyle claims that Alliance Party leader and MLA Chris Lyttle took concerns from a local group objecting to the kayaking facility directly to the planning officer.

“We were a bit annoyed that Alliance hadn’t spoken to us first,” he told the Telegraph. “While there was a group of local people objecting, there was also significant local support.”

Boyle adds that his ire was raise by a subsequent Alliance newsletter that pledged support for sport in East Belfast.

“Our point was that this pool was meant to be a community facility and should be within the community it serves,” he said.

A solicitor for the Alliance Party has however branded Boyle’s claims as “spurious, innacurate, bizzae [and] false”, listing a number of planning enforcement cases against Boyle over alleged unauthorised works on the grounds of Ormiston House.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

#Surfing - “It was just… nothing. There is only blackness.”

That’s how Scottish surfer Matthew Bryce describes his terrifying ordeal adrift on his board in the North Channel for 32 hours.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the 23-year-old recently returned to Campbelltown in Argyll a month after what was supposed to be a morning riding the waves turned into a nightmare.

The young man was finally rescued from the sea off Northern Ireland on 1 May, more than a day after getting pulled away from the shore, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Bryce expressed his appreciation to the local RNLI and coastguard teams, who worked with their counterparts in Northern Ireland to search the sea by boat and air.

He also appealed to anyone else going surfing to avoid the mistakes he made in surfing alone, without GPS or means to contact anyone on shore.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing
Tagged under

#Rescue - Coastguard units from Ballycastle and Coleraine were tasked on Friday night (26 May) to the aid of a dog fell more than 30 feet off a cliff near the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.

The coastguard teams used their specialist rope rescue equipment to lower a technician down the cliff to secure Bell the springer spaniel and lift her up to her grateful owners.

Belfast Coastguard reminds anyone with pets on or near the water to keep them on leads, especially close to cliffs. If an accident should happen, don't attempt a rescue yourself – always call the coastguard who are trained for the purpose.

In other news from the North Coast, the iconic Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is closed until further notice after vandals attempted to cut it down.

TheJournal.ie has more on the incident last week, as the National Trust awaits investigation by structural engineers to determine the extent of the damage to the coastal tourism attraction.

Published in Rescue

#MarineScience - Scientists from Northern Ireland will lead a new project monitoring whale and dolphin sounds off the Scottish and Irish coasts, as BBC News reports.

The scheme led by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will see a network of buoys deployed with devices to pick up cetacean chatter – as well as potentially harmful ocean sounds from sea traffic or industry.

"Displacement from noise is a very real effect and ... if it doesn't cause them to move will change their behaviours and, at the most acute levels, can cause physical and physiological damage to the animals,” says Dr Adam Mellor of the AFBI.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - The RSPB has welcomed the announcement of new marine protected areas for Northern Ireland this week.

“The formal designation of four new marine protected areas will help protect a range of vulnerable species and habitats - ranging from black guillemots to ocean quahog and seagrass meadows,” the wildlife charity said in a statement.

Among the new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) announced by Storming is an area near Rathlin Island off Co Antrim that’s the first in the UK to be set aside for a seabird species, the amber-listed black guillemot.

The other new zones announced include seagrass meadows in Waterfoot, also in Co Antrim, and the fragile ecosystem for sea pens in Carlingford Lough.

Also included among the new MCZs is the territory of ocean quahogs in outer Belfast Lough.

According to The Irish News, these clams are thought to have been thriving in the waters near the city for over 200 years - and individual clams could live for hundreds more.

The Stormont announcement comes a year after the new zones were first proposed for public consultation, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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