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Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus

The Government has been warned of the risks of an increase in drownings in the next few weeks during an easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Water Safety Ireland chief executive John Leech has expressed concern about the risks if weather is good before lifeguards are in place on beaches, and when water temperatures are still relatively low.

There is also some concern among commercial providers of outdoor adventure activities about the timing of safe resumption.

“Cold-water shock is a serious risk for people who have not been swimming on the sea or inland since last summer, and who haven’t been able to access a swimming pool,” Mr Leech said, pointing out that almost two million people living within 5km of the coastline, and many others live close to rivers and lakes.

“The last thing we want is to restrict people, but we are going to have the greatest number on the water in our history over the next few weeks, as they cannot go abroad and many have lost their jobs,” he said.

The Government has sanctioned re-opening of “outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as car parks, beaches and mountain walks” as part of phase one from Monday.

The Irish Coast Guard has also lifted its advisory on staying off the water and thanked the public for its co-operation, but cautioning that “the current 2x5 rule, as in two-metre physical distance and five km travel distance” remains in place.

Marinas, sailing and kayaking clubs are re-opening under advice issued by national sport governing bodies including the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) and Canoeing Ireland in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Covid-19 guidelines.

Activities such as kayaking in groups of up to four are being advertised as and from Monday by several providers, including Inish Adventures in Moville, Co Donegal.

“We are restricting to groups of four, all equipment will be sanitised, there will be social distancing and we are staying within the two loughs of Swilly and Foyle,” Adrian Harkin of Inish Adventures said. “We have received approval from our local Irish Coast Guard and from Canoeing Ireland.”

Mr Harkin said that he had erected marquees and outdoor showers as part of his preparation.

“I’ve never had so many inquiries from people to buy kayaks, and to be honest I’d prefer to see them going out with qualified instructors rather than taking risks on their own,” he said.

Canoeing Ireland chief executive Moira Aston said it has published return to sport protocols for its members and clubs.

“While we don’t have a regulatory function in relation to the commercial sector, we sincerely hope that everyone behaves responsibly, observes all guidelines, legislation and safety protocols and allows for further easing of restrictions,” she said.

She said she was aware that commercial operators had drawn up their own procedures which appeared to be in line with HSE guidelines. Canoeing Ireland would “not endorse any individual or organisation operating outside of our protocols”, she stressed.

“Kayaking is in a great position to be out there, but we are dipping our toe in the water,” she said.

In Galway, harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan confirmed public slipways and the marina would re-open under the guidelines, with a medical disclaimer required for use of the crane in launching craft.

Published in Water Safety
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“Safety is our priority — let’s reopen safely” is the message from CH Marine, which has announced its stores will partially reopen for counter sales with the start of the first phase of relaxing coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow, Monday 18 May.

Only two customers will be allowed inside at any one time, and customers are asked to limit their time in store to reduce exposure.

To save time, customers are invited to order on the CH Marine website, choosing the ‘store pickup’ option at checkout, or to phone orders through for collection or delivery.

For clothing sales, CH Marine says it will be allowing goods on approval if necessary, and quarantining them for 72 hours if returned.

CH Marine’s lifejacket and liferaft servicing department remains open as usual as an essential service.

Published in CH Marine Chandlery

Naval Service patrol ship LÉ William Butler Yeats left Dublin today to return to routine security operations as Covid-19 community testing centres on ships are stood down.

Six ships have rotated duty in the three ports of Dublin, Galway and Cork since March 15th as a support to the Health Service Executive in providing field hospitals for testing.

The nine-week operation involved almost 6,000 tests for the HSE and was known as "Operation Fortitude", according to the Defence Forces press office.

It said the Naval Service has "completed a handover with their Army colleagues" who "will now operate the COVID19 testing centre at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin as the Defence Forces continue to assist the HSE".

Published in Navy
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Following changes in UK government guidance for England, which allow people to travel to the coast and use the water, the RYA says it is engaging with the RNLI and representatives from the ports and leisure marine industry to help ensure a safe return to recreational boating activity amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Any facilities associated with outdoor sports and physical activities have been permitted to reopen from today, Wednesday 13 May. This includes facilities such as marinas and sailing clubs.

Guidance for English sailing clubs considering a safe plan to restart activity is available on the RYA website, while the devolved administrations have issued their own phased plans and measures.

“In line with Government guidelines for public spaces, the boating community [in England] may now drive to their destination so long as they observe social distancing,” said RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder.

“We welcome the Government’s guidance that general day trip leisure activities are being encouraged and we will continue to work with the RNLI to ensure this is done safely.”

Meanwhile, the RNLI urges people to take extra care when out on the water following the changes in government guidance for England.

‘We are urging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice’

“We completely understand that people will want to take to the water, particularly as the weather improves,” said Gareth Morrison, RNLI’s head of water safety.

“Our volunteer lifeboat crews are still ready to respond during the public health crisis.

“However, we are urging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice, which includes ensuring equipment is maintained and functioning correctly, and making sure that lifesaving apparatus is available.

“By following this advice we can work together to enjoy a safer summer and reduce the demand on our crews and other emergency services.”

Boaters are reminded that at present there are no RNLI lifeguards on UK beaches — and anyone visiting the coast is urged to understand the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.

“As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters to take a considerate and conservative approach when planning to go afloat,” Treseder added.

“Be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services. Finally, proper preparation will prevent accidents and is a vital step to getting back on the water safely.”

Yesterday the RYANI said it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on lockdown measures. The Executive has published a roadmap to recovery in which step one allows for ‘activities’, but there is no timetable for when this begins.

Some sailing activity will return in the Republic of Ireland with the first relaxation of movement restrictions next Monday 18 May.

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Marine Minister Michael Creed has called on the European Commission to strengthen its support for the fisheries sector in the fight against Covid-19.

Speaking at a video conference of EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers earlier today (Wednesday 13 May), Minister Creed welcomed the steps taken by the commission to date, but said further action is urgently required.

The minister noted that overall activity by the Irish fishing fleet is significantly reduced, particularly for smaller vessels, and that the market situation remains challenging.

He called on the commission to keep the needs of the sector under ongoing review.

“We need an ongoing, co-ordinated and effective response to Covid-19 at European level in order to effectively mitigate the impacts of the crisis on the agri-food and fisheries sectors,” he said.

“I expect the commission to reflect carefully on today’s discussions, and I look forward to seeing further proposals that will ensure a robust and timely response to the difficulties that look set to continue to affect these sectors over the medium term.”

Published in Fishing
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The first phase of Spain’s transition towards its ‘new normal’ amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic saw boat owners yesterday (Monday 11 May) allowed to set their vessels free from moorings, as International Boat Industry reports.

‘Non-commercial cruising’ in limited groups, such as a family or people who share the same address, is limited to local waters only.

But the move will come as a relief to many recreational boaters who had been kept away from their vessels under a 50-day lockdown, one of the most restricting in Europe along with Italy.

Boat charter and rental is also permitted under the latest relaxing of regulations, with further allowances — to move outside of one’s municipality for safety and maintenance checks, for instance — expected to come with the next phase on Monday 25 May.

Neighbouring France has followed suit with its own easing of lockdown measures, which allow for navigation and mooring within 100km of home port with no more than 10 passengers on any vessel.

But the entry of vessels with a foreign flag from a port outside the Schengen zone into French territorial waters, if the destination is a port on the French coast, remains prohibited until at least next month.

And Spain’s border remains closed to all non-essential travel, with a 14-day quarantine mandated for anyone entering the country.

Published in Cruising

The RYANI says it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on coronavirus lockdown measures.

It comes after the weekend announcement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson easing lockdown restrictions in England only.

The announcement, which followed the Republic of Ireland’s own roadmap towards the restart of economic and leisure activities, included water sports that could resume under certain conditions.

In a statement, the RYANI’s chief operating officer said the NI Executive’s most recent position on Thursday 7 May “outlined no further changes to the current regulations”.

“We must await the publication of any further guidance of the Executive’s ‘plan for a phased, strategic approach to recovery’,” Richard Honeyford said. “The next statutory review of the Regulations will take place before 30 May.”

Honeyford added that the RYANI will continue to support the NI government guidance on the lockdown “as long as necessary to combat the pandemic”.

However, he added that the organisation “believes there is a clear case for boating (sailing, windsurfing, power boating, etc) to be able to resume as part of any easing of restrictions” while following social distancing protocols.

“We have seen the boating community acting in a responsible and patient manner throughout this period. As the national governing body, we urge all members of the boating community in Northern Ireland to continue to do so until instructed otherwise.” he said.

While clubs and training centres in England will be receiving guidance based upon UK Government advice, the RYANI will issue such guidance “only once a full assessment of any future NI Executive recovery plan is made”.

Honeyford added: “RYANI is very aware, that people are eager to get back on the water, but this can only take place once the implications of any modification the current lockdown restrictions have been assessed.

“For now all clubs, centres and participants must continue to follow the current Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland to Stay At Home, Keep Your Distance, Wash Your Hands.

“We look forward to the time that restrictions are eased and we can safely return to the water.”

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Irish Sailing hopes to have 'more information' early this week on its 'Return to Sailing' document, outlining guidelines for a return to the water as Government COVID-19 guidelines are eased.

In his latest update, dated May 8th, Irish Sailing Chief Executive Harry Hermon now says the government body Sport Ireland has indicated they believe 'sailing will be able to resume in Phase 1 (May 18), subject to the approval of the Irish Sailing plan and the lifting of the Coastguard's current advisory notice'.

So far, the plan has not been published but, as Afloat previously reported, the national governing body has prepared a 'draft document' that it circulated to clubs and classes. It says it is 'a first look' at recommendations for how sailing, windsurfing and powerboating activities may be resumed on a phased basis.

Shore Angling returned at the weekend across the country but boat anglers are subject to Coastguard safety guidelines, which currently recommend avoiding the water for any recreational activities.

The May sunshine, however, brought numerous small craft out at the country's biggest boating centre, Dublin Bay on Saturday. On the water were stand up paddleboards, kayakers and speedboats and a variety of RIBs despite the Coastguard's renewed pleas for recreational users not to go afloat.

Dun Laoghaire Marina, the base for over 500 pleasure craft, has indicated there will be full access to boatowners by May 18th in line with government guidelines.

The number of recorded incidents dealt with by HM Coastguard yesterday has been the highest since the UK was put into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in late March, the service has warned.

Friday 8 May saw 97 incidents — a 54% increase over the daily average in the previous month — within a single 24-hour period. This coincided with the start of the UK’s early May bank holiday weekend.

“People are ignoring the measures put into place by the [UK] government,” said Matt Leat, duty commander with HM Coastguard.

“I completely understand that the weather and the bank holiday coupled with the fact that we’ve been in this lockdown situation for just over six weeks has tempted people out to our beautiful coasts.

“However, as the government said only yesterday, it’s really vital that we all continue to observe the guidance.”

Leet said that the coastguard would always respond to a 999 or distress call “but the minute we send in a rescue response, we’re putting our frontline responders at risk as well as putting the NHS under avoidable pressure”.

He added: “Please, please continue to observe the #StayHomeSaveLives message — it’s still in place for a reason. Exercise locally and stretch your legs, not our resources.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised today (Sunday 10 May) for changing the coronavirus advice slogan from ‘stay at home’ to the less direct ‘stay alert’. The change has been rejected by the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has amended Marine Notice No 06 of 2020 to include an updated annex from the HSE on measures required for all vessels, including fishing vessels and pleasure craft, entering Irish ports.

Masters of vessels arriving from ports outside the island of Ireland must complete both a Maritime Declaration of Health, and an updated Crew List (and Passenger List for passenger ships).

Those arriving in port from other ports located on the island of Ireland no not need to submit the health declaration or crew list, except where any crew member or passenger develops potential Covid-19 symptoms during the course of the voyage.

These symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath requiring hospitalisation. Also requiring notification is where any crew member or passenger has been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 infection.

Full details of submission guidelines are included in the annex to Marine Notice 06 of 2020 which can be downloaded below.

Published in Irish Ports
Page 5 of 13

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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