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Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon has contacted anglers, angling clubs, fisheries and angling governing bodies to update them on the impact of Covid-19.

The letter urges the angling community to follow the guidance provided and to keep up to date with the latest advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland.

In her letter dated Friday 3 April, McMahon notes the guidance from governments north and south regarding the circumstances where members of the public may leave their homes at this time.

“One of these is to take exercise, either alone or with other members of their household. The only forms of exercise permitted [in the UK at this time] are walking, running or cycling,” she says.

“Angling, like many other forms of recreation, is not specifically mentioned as a form of exercise, therefore we would urge you not to go fishing at this time – this includes Loughs Agency’s permit waters on the River Finn, River Foyle and at the Greenbraes.

“We thank those anglers who are already adhering to this advice and we will continue to review government guidance as it is issued.

“While we hope these restrictions won’t last long, we must all do what is asked of us by government and work together to fight this pandemic.

“This is about saving lives and supporting our healthcare systems and frontline staff. The agency is encouraged by private fisheries closing during this pandemic and heeding government advice.”

The statement from the Loughs Agency comes after Stormont’s fisheries minister Edwin Poots closed all state-owned angling waters in Northern Ireland, with those owned by NI Water following suit.

Loughs Agency offices remain closed but staff are working remotely where possible and anglers can engage by phone or email.

As Derek Evans writes in his latest angling column for The Irish Times, there are as yet no specific restrictions on angling in the Republic, but permit and licence sales have been paused, and “those intending to fish must adhere to the latest precautionary advice on coronavirus”.

Sailing clubs and centres in England are already beginning to benefit from the £22 billion grant and business rates package recently announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the RYA says.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, such as RYA-affiliated sailing clubs and recognised training centres, will be eligible for a one-off grant payment dependant on their rateable value.

Those with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive £10,000 and those clubs with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a grant of £25,000.

Business rates in England have also been suspended for the next 12 months — though devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland set their own rates, and their measures if any may involve a reduction rather than a suspension.

It is understood that local authorities may be contacting businesses either via letter or by email this week. As the clubhouse is usually the registered business address for sailing clubs, this may cause a delay in receiving notification due to the current travel restrictions.

The RYA suggests that sailing clubs and training centres should contact their local authority and ask for any communication to be sent via email instead, or for any essential letters to be temporarily re-directed to a more convenient address.

Published in News Update

It’s business as usual at the Irish Maritime Development Office — albeit remotely for now to protect employees, clients and stakeholders amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The IMDO says it is firmly committed to supporting the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Marine Institute and the maritime industry, including the ports and shipping companies, during this turbulent period.

For queries on how the IMDO can assist, get in touch via email [email protected] and you will be put in touch with the right person who can help.

Meanwhile, the IMDO urges everyone to please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your family and loved ones, and anyone you interact with.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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All DAERA angling waters in Northern Ireland have been closed with immediate effect in efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, as the Newry Times reports.

The confirmation comes from Edwin Poots, Stormont’s Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who said: “The message is clear to our anglers, many of whom are in the older age group, stay safe – stay home.”

While NI Water supports the minister’s stance for angling waters under its purview, the Loughs Agency has not yet moved to close the Foyle and Carlingford areas to local anglers.

But it said anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners in advised to adhere to UK Government and Public Health Agency advice and new regulations under which no one may leave their home without ‘reasonable excuse’, such as shopping for food and medicine, or travel for key work.

Water Safety Ireland has warned that children are at greater risk of drowning during the current period of Covid-19 restrictions.

The organisation points out that over half a million primary school-age children are confined to an area within 2km of their home.

And in many cases, any number of streams, rivers, canals, ponds, slurry and rainwater collection tanks, bog holes, wells, lakes and the seashore can be found within this distance.

“From our research, six out of 10 drownings occur at inland water sites and eight out of 10 drownings occur close to the victim’s home,” Water Safety Ireland says.

“It is essential that parents maintain constant, responsible and uninterrupted supervision on their children to ensure they don’t gain access to these real hazards.”

The water safety charity added that while children are at home, families can take the opportunity to teach them how to stay safe near water by using the free resources available online from the PAWS (Primary Aquatics Water Safety) programme.

In an emergency, call 112 and ask for the coastguard.

British boaters are being encouraged to support their local boating networks wherever possible during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As Boating Business reports, the RYA is asking people to think again before cancelling payments to sailing clubs, marinas, class associations and other marine-related bodies to support them through the lockdown period.

“During these hugely challenging times people are looking at where they can cut costs,” said RYA sport development manager Alistair Dickson.

“However, we would urge boaters to think carefully about whether they need to cancel direct debits, subscriptions or other payments as many organisations will be depending on this support to them through this difficult period.”

In Northern Ireland, the RYANI says it will “endeavour to keep meaningful engagement with all clubs and organisations” as it briefs Stormont on the challenges facing the NI boating community and calls for inclusion in Executive support packages.

Published in News Update
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Waterways Ireland advises all masters of vessels and users of Ireland’s inland waterways that the following closures are in place as of midnight last night, Monday 30 March:

  • All locks on all navigations are closed until further notice.
  • All service blocks are closed until further notice.
  • The Winter Mooring period on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway has been extended until Thursday 30 April. There will be no additional cost for this extension.

Waterways Ireland is encouraging all users of vessels on its navigations not to take part in any activity on the water in order to comply with the directions of both the Irish and British Governments.

Towpaths remain open but Waterways Ireland is encouraging locals who live in their vicinity to use them in accordance with Government guidelines for brief physical exercise, within 2km of their home, always observing social distancing protocols.

Where towpaths are likely to be busy, users are asked to restrict use, where possible, and only use those towpaths which are local, quiet and largely free of moored vessels.

Waterways Ireland confirms that operational staff, water patrollers and lock keepers will continue to undertake essential management of water levels, and any emergency works that may arise, under strict social distancing protocols.

In a statement, Waterways Ireland said: “We are aware of the potential impacts for the community of these decisions, and the difficulties this may present. At this time we would normally see the season kicking off and people de-winterising their craft and finishing off maintenance to be ready to get out on the water.

“These measures are being taken to support the national effort in keeping people safe, protecting our staff, colleagues, partners and everyone who visits, or lives on and around our canals and river navigations. We will continually review such measures in light of direction and advice from Government and health professionals and any decisions on service provision will be communicated.”

In the meantime, work continues on Waterways Ireland’s Heritage Plan 2016-2020, as well as the cross-border body’s Learning Zone online portal to assist families home schooling. Waterways Ireland can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone.

Published in Inland Waterways

RTÉ News reports that Tory Island residents sought the assistance of gardaí and the Irish Coast Guard after a yacht berthed unexpectedly at the Co Donegal island’s pier last night (Friday 27 March).

The yacht’s four crew were spoken to by the local coastguard unit and reminded of the updated measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, which include limiting travel to offshore islands only to residents.

Published in Island News

In a statement to its members, the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) confirms that personal use of vessels for leisure purposes is now prohibited under the Government’s added restrictions on movement to combat Covid-19.

“All citizens on the island must now stay at home except in the most limited of circumstances as determined by the governments in both jurisdictions,” said the preservation group for all of Ireland’s working inland waterways navigations.

Following the Taoiseach’s address to the nation last night (Friday 27 March), the IWAI also emphasises that “face-to-face meetings, such as branch meetings, must be postponed” until at least after Easter Sunday.

“Where branch committees wish to continue to perform their duties, this can only be done using technology to manage meetings rather than face-to-face … All planned indoor gatherings must be postponed.

“All outdoor gatherings are banned, therefore all cruises in company, rallies and work parties must be postponed.”

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

Dun Laoghaire Marina has been closed to berth-holders with immediate effect, following the Taoiseach’s announcement last night (Friday 27 March) of more measures restricting movement to slow the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement sent out following Leo Varadkar’s address to the nation, Dun Laoghaire Marina general manager Paal Janson confirmed that the facility is now “shut completely, as directed by the Government, for a period of 14 days” from midnight this morning, Saturday 28 March until Easter Sunday, 12 April.

He added: “There will be no access to berth holders, contractors or any visitors. Fuelling for boats will cease for this period also. The marina will maintain access for necessary state and emergency service vessels, etc.”

In addition, new travel restrictions have been extended to “the arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned (except to exceptions as ‘port in a storm’)”, according to the Government.

Janson continued: “Marina staff come under the category of essential workers and will be present at the marina throughout this period. Your boats will be checked daily and staff will deal with any issues that arise. We will be contactable throughout on [email protected] and 01 2020040.

“We are now about to sail into the worst of this storm and it’s time to heave-to and weather it as best we all can. We respectfully ask that you follow Government guidelines and stay at home.”

Prior to the Taoiseach’s address, the Royal Cork Yacht Club announced the cancellation of Cork Week this July and all planned Cork300 events from now until August, while the Department of Transport issued guidance to the maritime industry on measures in response to the virus.

Page 9 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.

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