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Displaying items by tag: COVID19

Worry over if there will be a 2021 sailing season at all has been replaced by hope after the Government outlined its latest path out of COVID-19 last night.

There has been overwhelming optimism following the news of the accelerated easing of restrictions from regatta organisers and sailing clubs around the country, especially for those events penciled in for June.

People will be allowed to travel across the country from 10 May. Hotels, B&Bs, bars and restaurants, and outside catering returning in the first week of June. 

The Taoiseach said last night training in sport can resume in May and competition returning in June.

It's a scenario that opens the door for a very complete sailing season as had been scheduled, but many feared – given the country has been in Level 5 lockdown since Christmas Eve – that would not take place.

And while there is positivity from organisers, most also now want more clarity on last night's arrangements.

The expectation is that such clarity will come from Sport Ireland in the coming days.

For example, as sailing is a low-risk outdoor no-contact sport and there is little difference in sailing between training and competition modes more clarity is needed on the resumption date for yacht racing competitions.

DBSC - May 4th

The country's biggest sailing league on Dublin Bay had been targeting a return on May 4th. While this is still not confirmed, Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) Commodore Ann Kirwan told Afloat the club is awaiting "guidance" but "would be hopeful for a return to our full racing programme pretty soon". 

DBSC has laid its marks, prepared courses and made arrangements for an immediate start to the season that traditionally begins this week for a fleet of up to 200 boats and 1200 sailors on the capital's waters. 

ISORA - May 15th

The first big offshore of the season is the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race on June 9th and ahead of that ISORA intends to run training for the 320-mile race ahead of that. "The first ISORA race is Saturday in Pwllheli. On the Irish side, ISORA will be providing training and experience for boats and crews considering doing the D2D race. These will start on the 15th of May. It’s all systems go!", ISORA chief Peter Ryan told Afloat.

Dun Laoghaire Dingle - June 9th

Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race Chairman Adam Winkelmann is also optimistic "I think it looks very positive for the race to go ahead, subject to Irish Sailing confirmation on racing and crew numbers". 

The D2D reached its 50-boat entry limit as early as March 6.   

Adam Winkelmann - positive news over Government easing of restrictions so the 2021 D2D can go ahead in JuneAdam Winkelmann - positive news over Government easing of restrictions so the 2021 D2D can go ahead in June

Winkelmann told Afloat he is "still concerned about boats from UK ( including NI) being allowed enter Irish ports". 

He says he also needs to consult with marinas, particularly Dingle after the racing situation is clarified but expects to know more on that over the next few days. 

As regular Afloat readers know, there are special arrangements required under COVID for anyone seeking to bring yachts to Ireland.

"We will move to virtual forms for declarations where possible and may need to defer prizegiving to Sept / Oct in NYC, Winkelmann added as part of his initial thoughts following the Government announcement. 

Sovereign's Cup - June 24th

The D2D brings Dublin boats to the south coast where the next big event on the Calendar is Kinsale Yacht Club's Sovereign's Cup, on June 24th where club commodore Mike Walsh told Afloat; "We are all excited but need to read the small print. expect an announcement in coming days".

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Following yesterday’s update on the upcoming easing of Level 5 restrictions on waterways in the Republic, Waterways Ireland has issued an advisory on access to navigations and availability of services in Northern Ireland.

As in the rest of the island of Ireland, all Waterways Ireland locks and service blocks remain closed on the Lower Bann Navigation, the Erne System and the section of the Shannon-Erne Waterway within Northern Ireland.

Local area access to jetties and moorings is in accordance with Northern Ireland Executive guidance.

Pump-out facilities are available for use, but owners must ensure that travel to pump-out facilities must be undertaken in a responsible manner minimising the amount of essential movement out on the water.

When on jetties, Waterways Ireland urges awareness of other users; wait or move aside to allow others to pass at a safe distance.

Waterways Ireland says it will continually review such measures in light of direction and advice from the NI Executive and health professionals.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways added: “If we all continue to observe government guidance, follow advice to limit use, and strictly observe social distancing, together we can combat this pandemic — and be able to enjoy getting back out on or by our waterways when we've beaten it.”

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland is advising all masters of vessels and water users that, in line with Irish Government restrictions, much of its network of inland waterways will open for navigation within one’s own home county from Monday 12 April.

However, all locks and bridges on the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation remain closed, as do all Waterways Ireland service blocks.

And the easing of restrictions only applies to waterways with the Republic of Ireland, as the NI Executive sets its own rules for waterways within Northern Ireland.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the winter mooring period has been extended on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway until Friday 30 Apri.

When the Government announces Level 4 restrictions, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges on the Shannon from 9am to 3pm daily and on the Shannon–Erne Waterway between 9am and 5pm. Service blocks and other on-shore services will also be available for use.

When Ireland moves to Level 3, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges at normal hours on all navigations.

Previous advisories for those using canal towpaths remain in place, with people encouraged to limit their use and stay within their home county.

Published in Inland Waterways
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British Marine has said recent guidance issued by the UK Government confirms that canal boats and other vessels in England are, in its view, eligible for COVID-19 recovery grants.

The Restart Grants were announced earlier this month by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, and are issued by local authorities in England.

“This confirmation means that accommodation providers, such as vessels and canal boats, should be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £18,000 to support them throughout the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on trading,” British Marine said.

The grant is exclusively for businesses which pay business rates, with the exact value of the grant determined by the businesses’ rateable value:

  1. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
  2. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
  3. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.

British Marine advises its members to contact their local authority to discuss their eligibility. Members can also visit British Marine’s COVID-19 microsite for the latest information.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Department of Transport has confirmed limited exemptions for maritime crews from mandatory hotel quarantine for those entering the State from high-risk countries, which comes into effect from tomorrow, Friday 26 March.

As detailed in Marine Notice No 16 of 2021 (which can be downloaded below), maritime crew are considered to be in the course of their work until they reach their home, having completed their duties on board.

It is recommended that seafarers arriving to Ireland to join a ship have in their possession evidence such as joining instructions from their employer or crewing agency.

In addition, it is recommended that seafarers leaving a ship abroad to return to Ireland are in possession of their seafarer’s discharge book that has been appropriately signed off by the ship as proof they have just completed their time aboard a vessel and are returning immediately home.

Another exemption is for anyone classed as an international transport workers, defined as a person who holds a valid Annex 3 Certificate in accordance with the Communication from the EU Commission on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the guidance for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and ensure services.

While maritime crew are generally exempt from the travel restriction requirements, this does not extend to crew involved in the operation of pleasure craft not engaged in trade, as such journeys are considered non-essential.

Any crew arriving in Ireland working aboard such a craft are required to adhere to all of the relevant travel restrictions as appropriate, including completion of a passenger locator form, pre-departure RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival and mandatory hotel quarantine where applicable. Breach of these legal obligations is an offence.

Further information in relation to travel restrictions in Ireland is available from gov.ie.

Owners/operators of international ferries serving Ireland are legally required to inform passengers of their obligations in relation to travel restrictions currently in place in Ireland.

They are also required to check each passenger has evidence of a negative/not-detected result from a RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in the State and to deny boarding to the passenger if such evidence is not produced.

In addition, there is a now a requirement to ensure that any passenger subject to mandatory hotel quarantine has made the necessary booking in advance of travel and to deny boarding if a relevant passenger cannot produce such evidence.

Masters are also requested to make on-board announcements detailing the legal requirement for passengers to complete the passenger locator form before disembarking and to ask passengers to have the form ready for collection by immigration officers.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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The RYANI has broadly welcomed the news of easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland from 1 April, as announced last week by First Minister Arlene Foster.

The sailing and boating body saidL: “This is very welcome news and follows on from engagement with the Minister of Communities, who has continued to be an advocate for sport and outdoor activity.

“Our understanding is that this will include further easing of restrictions for boating activity, namely around venue access.

“We still await the issuing of the regulations and guidance from the department to understand implications across the boating community in full."

Full guidance is currently pending, but the RYANI has summarised the position as it understands:

  • Updated Regulations are yet to be laid in order to confirm venues etc that may reopen from 1 April.
  • In the absence of the regulations, affiliated boat clubs will be able to reopen outdoor facilities from 1 April. However, there will be stringent protocols required, including very limited numbers.
  • Sailing, windsurfing and powerboating as individual, single household/bubble recreational activity will be permitted from 1 April.
  • Activity with two different households is permitted only where 2m social distancing can be adhered to at all times and with a maximum 10 people.
  • SportNI/Department for Communities will be briefing national governing bodies in coming days of the phases for outdoor sports, including more detailed guidance.
  • The current sub-phases under Step 2 will move from recreational through to training and potentially competition.
  • Once received, RYANI will be working to create guidance for clubs, centres and the wider boating community and we will share this as soon as practically possible.

“Although this announcement is welcome and further details are to follow, our current guidance remains in place, where club and other watersports facilities must remain closed,” the RYANI adds.

“We appreciate this will raise a large number of questions and will work to ensure appropriate guidance is issued at the earliest possible opportunity in order to allow you to make informed decisions.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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In the south-east ferryport of Rosslare, serious questions have been asked over the numbers of passengers arriving and departing and the amount of screening being undertaken to prevent any further spread of Covid-19.

Last week images, writes Wexford People, were circulated of a convoy of caravans at Rosslare Europort, apparently queued up to board a ferry to France.

Meanwhile, further video footage has emerged which shows upwards of 20 cars driving off the Isle of Inishmore on Sunday night after it arrived in Rosslare from Pembroke (see other story).

An eyewitness said that the cars were all UK registered vehicles apart from one Dublin reg and one Cork reg.

While garda checkpoints had been setup in Kilrane previously, it's unclear if gardaí were present on this occasion, although checks would have been carried out at the port.

Published in Rosslare Europort

A £2.5m fund to help marine tourism businesses in Scotland restart operations in 2021 will be open for applications from next week, according to Marine Industry News.

The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund is part of an overall £104.3m support package for tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the fund is aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme, which opens at noon on Tuesday 2 February.

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said.

“Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.

He added: “The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Scottish Waters

Scotland’s struggling aquatic tourism sector is set to be boosted by a £2.5m pandemic support package from the devolved government, as Marine Industry News reports.

Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland have secured the £2.5m restart grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme.

Operators of visitor moorings and pontoons will also be able to access grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 in the scheme, which opens in January.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government, we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin says.

But he adds that the restart funding is just one of the industry’s ‘three asks’ of the regional government — with the others being “detailed solutions around workable rules” and a “recovery marketing fund”.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Scottish Waters

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is the first ferry firm in the UK to receive a top industry verification for its infection risk management processes.

The operator of Scotland's lifeline services to west coast islands has been found compliant to a high standard for infection risk management, earning the right to use DNV GL's prestigious My Care Readiness Mark.

CalMac's HSQE team worked closely with independent third party risk management and quality assurance experts DNV GL, which has completed a verification assessment of the readiness of the organisation in managing infection risk from emerging pathogens.

All processes were reviewed using the My Care framework, which assesses, manages and mitigates infection risk in management systems, business processes and operations. This was carried out through document review, remote discussions with onboard management teams, and included eight site visits.

Louis de Wolff, Director of HSQE at CalMac, said: "The My Care Readiness Mark provides formal recognition of the high standards of health and safety protection on our routes to reduce the risk of infection.

"This award reaffirms our commitment to ensuring a safe environment for passengers, colleagues and communities, during the current COVID pandemic and beyond.

"The review process was in-depth and rigorous, and I am grateful to CalMac staff for their open and honest insight into our processes and how they are implemented across the organisation."

Aileen Orr, Healthcare Lead at DNV GL - Business Assurance in the UK, said, "Many congratulations to CalMac on this achievement, which is well deserved. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of staff at all levels."

Published in Ferry
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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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