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Displaying items by tag: Grand Canal

Waterways Ireland advises users of the Grand Canal from Lock 12 in Lucan to Hazelhatch that the towpath on the north bank will be closed from Monday 10 January to Sunday 6 February inclusive.

This four-week closure is to facilitate site investigation works for the Grand Canal Greenway Project, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says.

Published in Inland Waterways

A number of greenways along Ireland’s waterways will benefit from a funding package for greenways and national roads worth two-thirds of a billion euro, which was announced today (Friday 17 December).

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has issued funding allocations totalling €676 million to local authorities for 2022.

Out of this, €60 million has been allocated to around 40 greenway projects across the country in 2022, in nearly every single county. This funding is part of an overall commitment to invest €360 million per year in active travel over the lifetime of the Government.

Minister Ryan said the funding will also support extensions of the Grand Canal Greenway in Offaly, Kildare and South Dublin and join the Waterford to New Ross Greenway with the Waterford Greenway, among other projects.

He continued: “I’m particularly happy that agreement has been reached on a Code of Best Practice for National and Regional Greenways. This code has been agreed with the farming representative bodies and other stakeholders and provides us with an approved way to achieve voluntary land sales for Greenways where needed.

“Community buy-in is central to the future of our Greenways, which are one of the big success stories of rural Ireland. Greenways are a wonderful amenity for leisure and tourism, and they are also important for everyday journeys to school, work or the shops.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Offaly County Council is calling on the public to have their say on the Banagher Marina Master Plan in an online consultation.

It’s hoped that projects arising from the master plan will help to reposition Banagher Marina as a tourism draw on the Grand Canal, offer new opportunities to local businesses and improve the experience of living in and around the town for local residents.

The council says the project is “one element of a larger regeneration plan for the town and is being led by a multidisciplinary team of experienced architects, engineers, planners and tourism consultants”.

It adds: “Help us develop a master plan for Banagher Marina and environs to create an area that everyone will love.”

The online consultation is open for submissions until Tuesday 14 December.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises users of the Grand Canal towpath in Co Kildare from Lock N1 in Osberstown to Soldier’s Island in the Sallins area that sections of this towpath will be closed to the public until Wednesday 22 December.

This is to facilitate essential ongoing canal maintenance works in the area, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has issued a reminder to all masters and owners of vessels that all canal permits expired on 1 November and must now be renewed.

Permits can be renewed online at the Waterways Ireland website.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways warns that vessels not compliant with the Canal Act 1986 (Bye-Laws) 1988, such as

  • Vessels with no permit, Bye Law 6(8);
  • Vessels non-attended and apparently abandoned, Bye Law 6(8);
  • Vessels doubled moored and causing obstruction (sunk), Bye Law 27 (3); and
  • Vessels deemed to be/likely to cause a hazard to navigation, Bye Law 33(3)

will be removed from the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation. Removed vessels may then be subsequently disposed of in accordance with Bye Law 34(2).

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, last year saw a big jump in the number of boat removals from the inland waterways under a programme to remove abandoned, sunken and “non-compliant” boats and structures from the canals network.

Published in Inland Waterways

Amid concerns over reduced water levels this year on the Grand and Royal Canals, Afloat.ie reader and former Oireachtas policy advisor Cathal Murphy fears for the future of Ireland’s inland waterways

Water levels on the canals plummeted over recent months. This was seen on the Royal Canal and Grand Canal and along the latter’s Barrow Line. They were so bad in parts that boats could not move on these 200-year-old navigations.

The water levels in parts were allegedly down over half a metre, the lowest in living memory. These historic pieces of heritage are under threat because if water levels continue to decrease they will not survive.

Is it structural problems? Is climate change responsible? The answers are yet to be found. The canals are supposed to have a stable water level, they are supplied off feeders which are water sources redirected from rivers.

These canals are great pieces of engineering, naturally maintaining their levels for boats to navigate. But suddenly after two centuries of functional infrastructure, we are seeing boats halted as water levels shrink.

The State at the moment is putting millions into greenway and blueway routes along these canals, but without the water and the boats these will become just paths along empty trenches in the countryside. It should be a basic function to keep water levels up as has been done for the past 200 years.

Illustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal MurphyIllustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal Murphy

It is not just the heritage affected. These waterways maintain immense biodiversity. Low water levels increase algal blooms, with devastating effects on fish and other invertebrates that use the habitat of the canal.

There is huge cultural and historical importance to the canals, forming a network upon which nature flourishes, history is functioning and people travel. Ireland needs them. They encourage tourism from both home and abroad so people can navigate these waterways like the canals of England and France.

Waterways Ireland, who maintain the canals, have said previously that low levels are due to leaks and not enough machinery to maintain the feeders that supply the canal, and maintain canal navigation.

Although this year we have seen some of the lowest levels, this has been an ongoing issue for a decade. This year marine notices stated that water levels were down 45cm in late August, and anecdotally they were down 60cm from Monastarevin to Athy along the Barrow Line.

The drying up of our canals is happening in front of our eyes. Some interim measures have been taken that have seen a rise in water levels in recent weeks but these are not long-term.

Whatever the reason for the water disappearing, the canals need to be protected, and to be seen as the asset of the State that they really are — and an amenity to all.

Published in Your Say

Boat removals from Ireland’s canals jumped in 2020 — with the total for the year at 150% of the previous four years combined.

The figures were revealed by Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan in his response to a Dáil question from Dun Laoghaire TD Cormac Devlin requesting a breakdown of the number of boats removed from rivers, canals and inland waterways between 2016 and 2020.

Across the canals network (and excluding the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway) under the jurisdiction of Waterways Ireland, a total of 45 boats deemed to be in breach of bye-laws were removed in 2020.

This compares to just seven the previous year, 17 in 2018, none in 2017 and seven in 2016 — a total of 31 in the four years leading to 2020.

On the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway, the figures over the last three years were more consistent, with 17 removals in 2020, 12 in 2019 and 15 in 2018. There were no removals on these waterways in 2017 or 2016.

Minister Noonan noted that the rise in removals on the canals last year can be credited to a compliance programme initiated by Waterways Ireland “to remove abandoned, sunken and non-compliant boats, vessels and structures from the canals network”.

He added: “This programme by the agency has resulted in improved water quality, improved compliance, and removed many unsightly boats, vessels and structures from the waterways.”

The Canals Bye Laws 1988 and the Shannon Navigation Bye Laws 1992 provide Waterways Ireland with the powers to remove boats, vessels and other structures that are in breach of the bye-laws.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a number of live-aboard barge owners on the Grand Canal feared losing their homes under last year’s removal drive.

But they were spared at the 11th hour when Minister Noonan stepped in to promise engagement with Waterways Ireland on a long-term solution.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises all masters and owners of vessels on the Grand Canal that Offaly Rowing Club will be holding its Tullamore Time Trial on the inland waterway in the Cappincur area on Saturday 2 October.

The event will take place between Ballycommon and Daingean between 9am and 4pm. Navigation will be restricted during this period, and masters of vessels are requested to comply with event stewards.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Grand Canal that Lock N1 on the Naas Branch is closed to boat passage until further notice due to a recent vehicle collision with the adjacent Osberstown Bridge.

The lock cannot currently be operated as it is unsafe to pass underneath the bridge until repairs are carried out, the cross-border body for the island’s inland waterways says.

Published in Inland Waterways

A live-aboard boat owner had a lucky escape after an explosion on his vessel at Hazelhatch on the Grand Canal on Saturday morning (28 August).

It’s reported on social media that the owner was trapped on his boat until the side blew out as the fire was blocking the only exit.

The man is said to be recovering with family after suffering burns to his face and experiencing shock.

Published in Inland Waterways
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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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