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Clean Coasts’ Big Beach Clean took place from 14th to 16th of September all over Ireland. Clean Coasts once again teamed up with the International Ocean Conservancy for the International Coastal Cleanup event.

This year the Big Beach Clean weekend in Ireland was the biggest yet, with

194 beach cleans took place around the coast of Ireland
Engaging 3,652 Clean Coasts volunteers
Removing over 32 tonnes of marine litter from our coastline

Each year millions of tonnes of marine litter enter our seas and oceans, resulting in environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges. Clean Coasts invited volunteers to join this global coastal clean-up helping remove marine litter from our beautiful coastline and in turn protecting our coastal habitats and marine life.

During the Big Beach Clean, Clean Coasts volunteers were asked to carry out marine litter surveys to quantify the amount and types of litter on Irish beaches. These surveys are aimed at heightening awareness about the issue of marine litter and serve as an indicator of the magnitude of the problem.

Speaking about the Big Beach Clean, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts National Manager

said, “We are so lucky in Ireland to have such spectacular sandy beaches and rocky shores but each year millions of tonnes of litter enter our seas and oceans causing environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges. We all have a responsibility in caring for our coastline so the Clean Coasts programme is incredibly proud of the amazing volunteer effort that joined this call to action over the past weekend, helping to remove marine litter from our beautiful coastline and aid in the protection of our coastal habitats and marine life”.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Ballynamona Strand on the East Cork coastline is internationally renowned for a long list of bird life including Shrikes, Larks, Citrine Wagtails, Sandpipers, Pipits, American Coot and Red-necked Stint. There is a new sight to be seen there, writes Tom MacSweeney and it is ensuring that the strand remains a welcoming place for wildlife, seabirds, marine life and for the general public. Regrettably, visitors of the human kind leave litter behind, disregarding the marine environment and despoiling the area.

The local community has responded leading to the new sight on the beach - a quad bike and trailer - showing community dedication to the preservation of a clean maritime environment. It’s the work of the group known as ‘Clean Coasts Ballynamona.’ “Truly an excellent example of what can be achieved when business and community work together,” said Proinsias Ó Tuama, one of the leaders of ‘Clean Coasts’ ‘and a teacher at St.Colman’s Community College, Midleton, where students are also involved in the protection of local beaches. Business and community interests raised €16,000 for a quad bike and trailer to remove beach litter. “It shows how local people are concerned for their maritime environment.”

The Ballynamona group has twice been An Taisce ‘Ocean Hero’ national award winners and has been using the equipment to maintain over 30kms. of coastline by removing marine litter from Ballybranagan to Ballymacoda in East Cork. Five tonnes of rubbish was taken from Ballybranagan beach with the help of the Transition Year students.

Published in Coastal Notes
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‘Clean Coasts Ballynamona’ will take their coast cleaning project to Ballynamona Beach near Shanagarry in East Cork this weekend.

On Sunday morning next, August 14, at 10 am. they will carry out a beach clean at Ballynamona.

‘Clean Coasts Ballynamona’ are An Taisce Ocean Hero winners for 2015/16 in the Best Newcomer section.

Proinsias Ó Tuama of the group says: “ It will last one hour. We will also be holding a Sandcastle competition as part of our morning’s activities for all the kids – both big and small. Prizes will be awarded for the best sandcastles. All are welcome.

“Our work continues for cleaner, safer beaches by the community in the East Cork Area.”

Published in Coastal Notes

Clean Coasts’ Big Beach Clean is taking place this weekend 18th-20th of September all along the Irish coastline. Clean Coasts is teaming up with the International Ocean Conservancy once again for the International Coastal Cleanup event. Last year 560,000 volunteer in 91 countries removed 7,257 tonnes of marine litter from the world's oceans. This year thousands of volunteers will be participating in beach cleans nationwide and you can search for a clean up near you on our website www.cleancoast.org

Michael John O Mahony Director of An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said, “Each year millions of tonnes of litter enter our seas and oceans, resulting in environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges. The Clean Coasts programme is inviting volunteers to join this global coastal clean-up helping remove marine litter from our beautiful coastline and aid in the protection of our coastal habitats and marine life”.

During the Big Beach Clean, Clean Coasts’ volunteers are asked to carry out marine litter surveys to quantify the amount and types of litter on Irish beaches. These surveys are aimed at heightening awareness about the issue of marine litter and serve as an indicator of the magnitude of the problem.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#clarebeaches – A newly published report by the EPA on Bathing Water Quality around Ireland has found that County Clare's 11 designated bathing areas were adjudged to have "Excellent Water Quality" during 2014.

The marine environment news has been described as "hugely significant and positive news" by Clare County Council in light of the newly introduced EU standards for bathing areas, deemed by the EPA to be almost twice as strict as those applied in previous years.

Bathing waters were classified into four categories, namely 'Poor', 'Sufficient', 'Good' and the newly introduced 'Excellent' category. The classification system is based on the levels of E. Coli and intestinal enterococci detected in the bathing water during the 2014 bathing season.

Clare is one of five Local Authority areas to receive "Excellent" classifications for each of its bathing areas, the others being Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Kerry, Leitrim and Louth.

Clare's 11 bathing areas are Ballyalla Lake (Ennis), White Strand (Milltown Malbay), Ballycuggeran (Lough Derg), Cappa Pier (Kilrush), Bishopsquarter, White Strand (Doonbeg), Kilkee, Spanish Point, Lahinch, Fanore and Mountshannon (Lough Derg).

"This is a magnificent achievement for County Clare and those who work throughout the year to safeguard our bathing areas from environmental pollution and to ensure that the public can enjoy these locations in the knowledge that they are bathing in clean waters," stated Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

He added: "This clean sweep for Clare is something that all tourism interests in the County should be aware of as we must now promote our quality beaches and other bathing locations, particularly in light of the growing numbers of visitors arriving in Clare during their journey along the Wild Atlantic Way."

"I wish to pay tribute to the Environment Section of Clare County Council and those living and working in the vicinity of Clare's 11 bathing locations for their due diligence and hard work in delivering this result. It's one that benefits our County's reputation and of course, the environment," said Councillor Crowe.

"The Council is delighted that each of the 11 designated bathing areas that it monitors achieved 'Excellent' status. This achievement is notable in light of the considerable disruption caused to many locations during the storms of early 2014, as well as the newly introduced standards for assessing bathing areas which are almost twice as strict as those previously applied. Our goal now is to maintain these high standards throughout 2015," explained Paul Moroney Senior Engineer, Clare County Council:

Commenting on the bathing water quality results, Dr Matthew Crowe, Director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Assessment, said: "Overall, the quality of Ireland's bathing waters continues to be very good and new standards introduced in 2014 provide a much higher level of protection for bathers."

"Disappointingly, seven identified bathing waters have been assessed as being of poor quality. The relevant local authorities and Irish Water have put management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches. The test will be whether or not we see the necessary improvements in water quality at these beaches," added Dr. Crowe.

The summary report 'Bathing Water Quality in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2014' is available to download from www.epa.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Rescue - Castlerock RNLI lifeguards rescued a family of six after they got into difficulty on the town’s seaside beach in Co Derry yesterday (7 July).

Senior RNLI lifeguard Gordon Clark was patrolling busy Castlerock beach when at he noticed a person in the water waving for help a short distance to the right of the flagged zone on the beach around 5.30pm.



The family of six – including a man, woman and four children – were all on bodyboards when they got caught in what appeared to be a flash rip, a strong current running out to sea.



After radioing for assistance, Clark swiftly entered the sea with a rescue tube. He was quickly joined in the rescue operation by his RNLI lifeguard colleagues Jenny Thompson and Ray Cunningham. 



Clark and Thompson proceeded to safely ferry the children, followed by their parents, to the shore, where they were checked over to ensure they hadn’t taken on any water. All were safe and well.



Speaking following the rescue, Mike Grocott, RNLI lifeguard manager for Northern Ireland, said: "Rip currents often catch people out because they can be difficult to spot, and research shows that most people don’t know how to identify one. They are a major cause of incidents that the RNLI’s lifeguards deal with each season.



"Anyone who gets caught in a rip should try to remain calm, raise their arm in the air to signal for help like the family member did today. If they feel they can swim, they should swim parallel to the beach until free of the current, and then head for shore."



With temperatures expected to soar this week, Grocott reminded people to be mindful of the RNLI’s key safety recommendations – choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, which mark the safest area to swim and are an indicator that lifeguards are on duty.

Published in Rescue

#beach – Clare County Council, on the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE), has today (Saturday, 21 July 2012) lifted restrictions relating to public bathing at Lahinch, Kilkee and Spanish Point beaches.

The Council confirmed that the preliminary results of water samples taken from the three bathing areas yesterday (Friday) have shown a dramatic reduction of levels of bacteria in the water. The Council and HSE said an improvement in weather conditions in recent days has been the main contributory factor to the positive results.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie the prohibition on bathing at the three locations was put in place on Friday after the results of routine tests on water samples at the three beaches showed up elevated levels of bacteria.

According to Anne Haugh, Director of Services, Clare County Council: "On the advice of the HSE and following analysis of water samples, the Council is delighted to be able to announce the lifting of all restrictions relating to bathing at Lahinch, Kilkee and Spanish Point. Public notices indicating that swimming and surfing at the three locations are no longer prohibited are being erected this afternoon, while the Blue Flag at Lahinch and Kilkee beaches have been restored having been temporarily withdrawn on Friday. Lifeguards at each of the three bathing areas also have been instructed to remove all red flags which had indicated that bathing was prohibited."

Liam Griffin, Water Safety Officer, Clare County Council added: "Clare County Council would like to thank the public for their understanding and cooperation over the past 24 hours. The local authority also acknowledges the valuable role played by the media in promoting the public health notices."

Published in Coastal Notes
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#coastguard – Now that the school holidays are here, Coastguards in Scotland and Northern Ireland have issued a timely notice to encourage children and families to stay safe whilst at the beach and along the coast.

Phil MacIver, HM Coastguard Sector Manager at Buchan said:

"We'd like to warn people against jumping into the water from cliffs and structures such as piers and bridges. Every year, nationally we deal with several serious injuries and some deaths as a result of this kind of activity. Tides make a massive difference and what may have been a deep lagoon could be just a shallow puddle only a couple of hours later. At this time of the year the water is still cold so be careful when entering the water, do it slowly and acclimatise gradually.

"Coastguards have also noticed an increase in the number of dogs that have fallen down cliffs. We'd like to warn people against attempting to rescue their dogs and encourage them to call the coastguard and ask for assistance.

"We want everyone who visits our coast to have a great time and to go home with happy memories. If you choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags you'll ensure that you have expert lifesavers looking out for you while you're in the water. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has launched a new 'beach finder' mobile app to make it easy for anyone heading to the seaside this summer to find their nearest lifeguarded beach, helping them to have fun whilst enjoying a safe visit. The app is available to download free-of-charge on both Android and Apple devices from www.rnli.org/beach

"If you're looking after children make sure that they are well supervised by adults whilst at the coast. We deal with numerous cases of lost children every year and it can be very distressing for children and adults alike.

"If you notice that someone is in difficulty, either alert the lifeguard if one is available or call the coastguard on 999.

Finally, have a great time and return home safely."

More information here

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

#WATER SAFETY - This coming Friday 30 March is the closing date for applications for Fingal County Council beach lifeguards for the 2012 summer season.

Lifeguard cover will be provided on Fingal beaches on weekdays and weekends 11am to 7pm from 2 July till the last week of August, depending on weather and staff levels.

Beaches and bathing places scheduled to be guarded this summer include Balbriggan (front beach), Skerries South, Loughskinny, Rush North and South Shores, Portrane (Tower Bay and The Brook), Donabate, Malahide, Portmarnock, Sutton (Burrow Road) and Howth (Claremount).

Applicants must be not less than 17 years of age on 1 May 2012. Application forms are available to download HERE.

Published in Water Safety
Seven dead seals washed up in Donegal are believed to have died of natural causes - but concerns over a pattern of seal deaths nationwide remain.
As the Donegal Democrat reports, the seven grey seals - which are a protected species - were found beached along with a dead dolphin in the Rosberg area.
A ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed that none of the marine animals had been shot.
But Pauline Beades of the Irish Seal Sanctuary said the find was just one in a series of reports of "strange" seal deaths around the country.
“You don’t find three, four, five animals dead on a beach," she said. "I would be very concerned that this is not a normal occurrence.”
It is not yet known if a post-mortem will be carried out in the dead seals, but members of the public are encouraged to report any similar finds as the thocine distemper virus has been responsible for seal deaths in the past.
Beades said that grey seals are now having their young, and asked the public to keep an eye out for seal pups and report anything that looks suspicious in the area.
The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.

Seven dead seals washed up in Donegal are believed to have died of natural causes - but concerns over a pattern of seal deaths nationwide remain.

As the Donegal Democrat reports, the seven grey seals - which are a protected species - were found beached along with a dead dolphin in the Rosberg area. 

A ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed that none of the marine animals had been shot.

But Pauline Beades of the Irish Seal Sanctuary said the find was just one in a series of reports of "strange" seal deaths around the country.

“You don’t find three, four, five animals dead on a beach," she said. "I would be very concerned that this is not a normal occurrence.”

It is not yet known if a post-mortem will be carried out in the dead seals, but members of the public are encouraged to report any similar finds as the thocine distemper virus has been responsible for seal deaths in the past.

Beades said that grey seals are now having their young, and asked the public to keep an eye out for seal pups and report anything that looks suspicious in the area.

The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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