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Displaying items by tag: Donegal

#Diving - The loss of a late diver's 'black box' means we will never know exactly what happened in the drowning incident off Donegal in July last year, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, hospital chaplain Rev Stewart Jones (56) died after getting into difficulty while diving off St John's Point near Killybegs.

At the inquest into his death at Sligo Court House on Monday 2 March, coroner Eamon MacGowan recorded a verdict of accidental death by drowning.

In a statement read to the court, Rev Jones' diving partner Aaron Buick explained how they had waited out poor conditions before setting out on their dive, but within 15 minutes - having dived to 23 metres - the reverend signalled to return to the surface.

Buick described the "sickening" wave action on the water as he assisted Rev Jones with his back-up air cylinder, and noted his distress when they reached the surface shortly after.

"I had to stop every 15 to 20 seconds as he was spitting out his regulator and swallowing water as the waves broke over us," his statement read.

Diving expert Rory Golden, who was called as an expert witness, said Rev Jones' dive equipment was found to be in good working order, but his dive computer – which records information such as available oxygen and air pressure – was never recovered.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving

#Seafood - Donegal's oyster industry has been hit by an import ban in Hong Kong over an outbreak of food poisoning.

According to The Irish Times, food safety investigators in the Chinese territory were notified by Irish authorities two weeks ago that the presence of norovirus was confirmed at a raw oyster processing plant in the north-eastern county that services the crucial Asian market.

Hong Kong subsequently banned the import of raw oysters from Donegal "for the sake of prudence". More HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Kayaking - It's been two years since David Burns and Maghnus Collins completed their epic 16,000-mile, 292-day Silk Roads to Shanghai adventure by foot, bike, raft and kayak.

They became in the process the first people to navigate Asia's longest river, the Yangtze, from source to sea by kayak.

In the meantime, they've kept their ambitions closer to home, but no less adventurous – starting a gruelling 24-hour challenge in the rugged landscape of Donegal simply called The Race.

As SportsJoe.ie reports, The Race is no ordinary race. Think a triathlon – running, cycling and swimming – but swap out the swimming for kayaking, add on an extra discipline (in thus case climbing) and cap it off with a full marathon run through the night.

All in all, competitors must cover a distance of 250km within 24 hours. And amazingly, there are some who can do that with hours to spare.

Take Canadian athlete Ben Wells, who set the record of 15 hours and 22 minutes in last year's race, and believes that even that time can be beaten in this year's even scheduled for next weekend, 7-8 March.

But for most of those taking part, only 10% "will be aiming to win it," says Burns. "The rest will be testing themselves against the course.

"The camaraderie was massive last year - everybody was willing the next person on, giving encouragement. We're expecting the same this year."

SportsJoe.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

#Weather - Huge waves came crashing over the Inishowen Peninsula yesterday as the Atlantic 'weather bomb' hit the northwest coast.

The video above, care of The Daily Edge, shows the sheer power of the swells that brought waves as high as 62 feet off Irish shores, putting the cream of the world's big wave surfers on high alert.

But as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the best surfing conditions need more than just a big swell - with the forecast wind direction putting paid to any attempts at riding a monster.

Published in Weather
Tagged under

#angling – Minister of State, Joe McHugh TD, visited the River Lackagh, Co Donegal, on Monday 20th October to view at first hand major angling development works currently underway to enhance this highly scenic salmon and sea trout fishery.

As part of an overall joint management plan for the development of the fishery, the Creeslough Angling Club, in conjunction with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), have completed a major upgrade and expansion of angler access and car parking facilities along the lower reaches of the river near Creeslough village. The majority of the work was carried out by Tús community work placement workers, with materials and additional labour supplied by IFI.

Commenting on the visit, Minister McHugh said: "I had a very positive visit to the River Lackagh where I had an opportunity to see for myself the very encouraging development carried out on the upgrading and expansion of facilities at the fishery and the great work being carried out by all groups, including the Creeslough Angling Club, the IFI and on a broader level, the Donegal Angling Tourism Alliance.

"I would like to thank those present for giving clear and concise briefings on how developments are underway and outlining where they believe the future of angling for the River Lackagh and the surrounding lakes is heading. There are many opportunities here which are being pursued by local and national groups and I commend them on their hard work to date and look forward to working closer and supporting where I can, as Minister and within the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources."

Previous developments on the fishery, funded mainly under the Salmon Conservation Fund administered by IFI, have seen a series of fishery and habitat enhancement measures completed including introduction of spawning gravels, fish passage improvement, selective bank clearance and erection of livestock fencing along key river bank sections. Salmon numbers have improved steadily on the fishery in recent years with the fishery re-opened on a 'catch and release' basis for the past two seasons.

Milton Matthews, Director, Inland Fisheries Ireland, briefed Minister McHugh on progress towards securing a major capital project for the fishery next year which would see a crump weir and fish counter facilities installed on the river. If successful, this proposal would represent the first such counter along the north Donegal coast.

Niall Gallagher, Paddy Boyle, chairman and secretary of the Creeslough AC, and consultant Kevin O'Connor, presented a copy of the 'Future Development plan for angling tourism and conservation of the Creeslough Fisheries to the Minister. The plan details future angling development proposals for the River Lackagh system and surrounding lakes including creation of additional angling spaces on the Owencarrow River, as well as provision of improved access, parking and mooring facilities at Glen Lough, Natooey and Roosky lakes.

The plan represents one of a number of similar projects developed by the Donegal Angling Tourism Alliance (DATA), a group formed in 2012 to promote game and sea angling in Donegal in partnership with Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Dr. Ciarán Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, expressed his delight with achievements to date in Donegal, highlighting what can be achieved jointly by local angling clubs and interest groups working closely in partnership with IFI to secure development and long term sustainable management of fisheries. He commented: "Inland Fisheries Ireland is delighted to lend its support to the Donegal Angling Holidays initiative for the promotion of game and sea angling in the region."

Published in Angling

#Coastguard - RTÉ News says Gardaí are investigating an alleged assault on a man who was airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard from a vessel off the coast of Donegal this morning (Friday 19 September).

The Irish Independent has more on the airlift, saying the seaman on a Liberian registered merchant ship has sustained chest injuries.

The Irish Mirror is reporting the incident on the Africa Star as a 'stabbing' but no specifics are known at this time.

The Sligo coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 reached the vessel in international waters some 220 miles off Donegal Bay just after 7am this morning to winch the casualty on board and airlift him to the mainland for treatment.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#CruiseDonegal – Having sailed from Belfast, the 51,000 tonnes Crystal Symphony anchored this morning off Greencastle from where as previously reported, Donegal Co. Council are backing the Loughs Agency to upgrade facilities.

The visit of Crystal Symphony is an impressive sized cruiseship to Lough Foyle. The €170,000 investment in Greencastle is to develop the lucrative cruise trade to the north-west. The aim is to increase cruise-based visitors to tour the Inishowen Peninsula, with Malin Head been the main destination attraction.

Crystal Cruises, operators of the ultra-luxury 900 passenger-plus cruise line won three first-place awards from CruiseLine.com's Bon Voyage magazine. The online publication's panel of experienced cruise editors chose the winners for the first annual Editor's Choice awards, giving Crystal five accolades overall – more than any other luxury line.

Among the categories won was for Best Refurbished Ship in which Crystal Symphony was awarded Silver. The 238m long cruiseship having recently undergone a $15 million redesign.

The redesign for example involved a newly-styled Avenue Saloon, one of the ship's most popular venues. The piano bar retains its 19th-century gentlemen's club feel with rich mahogany woods, buttery leathers, and luxe velvets. So click HERE for a peak and more!

Published in Cruise Liners

#Fanad - TheJournal.ie reports on the death of a man in his 60s who fell into the water at Fanad Lighthouse in Co Donegal.

The man was believed to be photographing the area when he slipped on a rock and fell into a gulley, which coastguard boats from Lough Swilly had difficulty accessing due to strong winds.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#Diving - RTÉ News reports that a man has died after a diving accident off the Donegal coast yesterday afternoon (Saturday 12 July).

The deceased, said to be in his 50s and a visitor to the area, was one of two divers who were reported in difficulty off St John's Point near Killybegs.

Bundoran RNLI's volunteer crew launched their lifeboat in response to the scene, near St John's Point Lighthouse, just after 4.30pm along with the Killybegs Coast Guard boat and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118.

On arrival they found that a man had been taken to shore, where he was being given CPR.

The casualty was transferred to nearby White Strand, where the helicopter could land, while CPR continued by an advanced paramedic from the lifeboat.

The man was then airlifted to Sligo General Hospital, where he later died.

His companion diver, a man in his 30s, was also transferred to the hospital.

The incident comes almost four weeks after the last diving incident in Donegal, when a man died following a rapid ascent to the surface during a dive at Malin Head.

That same weekend also saw the death of a Limerick diver at Roches Point, and since them there have been two more diving fatalities, after two men died in an incident while wreck diving off the West Cork coast earlier this month.

Published in Diving

#MarineWildlife - Two of the stranded pilot whales at Falcarragh in Co Donegal have been refloated by locals against advice to leave them alone to die naturally.

According to RTÉ News, the public was warned away from the strand - now reported to be Drumnatinny beach - but a group met at first light this morning where they found four whales still alive in a pool of water and refloated two of them at high tide.

The locals said they watched the whales for several hours to make sure they did not strand themselves again.

But their actions still go against "internationally accepted" practice to leave whales that strand after being refloated to die in peace, as Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) welfare officer Paul Kiernan explains.

Meanwhile, a visitor to the area has told the Belfast Telegraph of her horror over scenes on the beach where hundreds of onlookers gathered to see the beached whale pod.

Nicola Hinds from Bangor said some parents encouraged their children to interfere with the carcasses, while others photographed dying whales with camera phones.

She also criticised authorities for not handling the situation better, describing the scene as "an act of total wilful animal cruelty".

IWDG strandings officer Mick O'Connell has since written a column discussing the lessons to be learnt from this incident, calling for the State to establish official procedures for live strandings.

"It is time for State agencies to sit down and decide who has responsibility for live strandings in this country," he writes. "The relevant agency needs to have in place a coastal network of personnel trained in the latest 'best practice' guidelines for dealing with live strandings."

These guidelines, O'Connell adds, must be "backed up with appropriate authority to act as beachmaster when dealing with members of the public, the Gardaí and the Irish Coast Guard service."

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 6 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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