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Displaying items by tag: Holyhead

Holyhead as Welsh towns go has had to reckon with more upheaval than most.

The largest town on the Isle of Anglesey is home to just over 10,000 people but is also one of the UK's largest commercial and ferry ports with millions of heavy goods vehicles, trucks, and tourists passing through every year.

The success of the port, which has existed in some form since 1821, is worth millions of pounds and supplies hundreds of jobs in a region which has seen deprivation levels rise. But one year on from Brexit traffic figures are worrying.

Stena Line has said trade is down 30% at its Welsh ports, which it owns and operates. In December 2020 traders and business figures in Holyhead spoke about the chaos as the hours ticked away until the UK officially left the EU.

Wales On Line has more on the startling impact of 'taking back control' on the port at the frontline of Brexit in Wales

One year on much seems still unclear. The UK is embroiled in fraught negotiations over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland while the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made the impact of Brexit on Holyhead difficult to measure.

Further coverage of the story here focusing on the impact on the port town's community. 

Published in Stena Line

For more than 14 hours, two ferries have been stuck off Holyhead as Storm Barra prevented them from docking at the port, as NorthWalesLive reported last night.

The Stena Adventurer and the Ulysses, which is operated by Irish Ferries, sailed from Dublin to Holyhead but were unable to dock on Wednesday due to the weather conditions.

Passengers described the situation on board as some said they felt "scared" and seasick.

For more click here to include passengers from both of the ferries, that had during the sailings posted updates from their twitter accounts.

Published in Ferry

Plans to refurbish the Port of Holyhead's Breakwater amid concerns it could fail within the next 15 years has led to a consultation launched.

Investigations of the structure have identified a need for a large scale refurbishment of the Breakwater to ensure that it can continue to receive about 70% of all ferry vehicle movement between Ireland and Wales and the North West.

Since its completion in 1873, the Breakwater has been subject to considerable wave action, which has led to the movement and erosion (as Afloat reported) of the rubble mound, that supports the structures wall.

Over the coming years it is anticipated that the level of the mound will become so low that the footing of the vertical walls will be at risk of being undermined.

"Investigations of the structure have predicted that the Breakwater could fail within the next 15 years meaning a permanent solution must be found," a Stena Line Ports spokesperson said.

More from North Wales Pioneer here.

Published in News Update

A historic tall ship which ran aground on the Port of Holyhead's breakwater, according to NorthWalesLive, could still be saved as hopes have been raised. 

The 83-year-old tall ship Zebu got into difficulties on May 15 and the ship had to be abandoned, after she was grounded on the sea wall.

There were fears the vessel, which was left at a 45 degree angle, may have to be dismantled, with the masts removed earlier this week as bad weather approached.

But inspections by divers have now shown the vessel is not as damaged as previously feared.

A full statement has been put out by the marketing director, for the two-masted clipper, which said there is "a strong chance & hope from Team Zebu that she will be saved."

An investigation also found the cause of the incident was due to the anchor dragging.

For further coverage of the tallship that was bound for Bristol, click here. 

Published in Historic Boats

In Holyhead, a stricken tall ship which ran aground last week at the north Wales port's breakwater is set to be dismantled.

It is understood that the 83-year-old tall ship Zebu has been too badly damaged to be salvaged.

A crane company is expecting to remove the two masts today with bad weather forecast.

As NorthWalesLive reported on Tuesday, the rest of the dismantling work is expected to be completed next week.

"It's very sad," said Mark Francis, of Bob Francis Crane Hire. "She's a piece of British nautical history.

"There will never be another one like her built again because the skills and crafts needed are being lost."

He added: "We are taking all the rigging and the masts off to stabilise the hull. We may have to stop then until next week because of a freshening blow."

More from the newspaper here.

Published in Historic Boats

The ferry port of Holyhead has been confirmed by the Welsh Government for the site of a planned new Border Control Post (BCP).

Physical checks are required on certain goods entering the UK from the EU due to Brexit and the deal struck by the UK Government.

Further controls on imports are due to be introduced in phases this year by the UK Government.

Checks were due to be introduced in stages from 1 April and from 1 July, but most import checks have now been pushed back to January 1 2022.

Border Control Posts (BCPs), where the required physical inspections will take place, are being established across the UK.

At Holyhead inspections will be required on goods such as animals, plants and products of animal origin entering Wales from the Republic of Ireland. These checks are the responsibility of the Welsh Government and will be in place in order to ensure goods entering the UK do not pose a risk to public health, or to the spread of animal or plant diseases.

Welsh Government has announced that Plot 9 at Parc Cybi has been selected as the site for the post.

A planning consultation under a Special Development Order will begin shortly.

For much more reading on this development, NorthWalesLive reports including an image of the BCP plot site. 

Published in Ferry

Cruiseships that had used the deep water jetty at the Port of Holyhead, NorthWalesLive reports, is now receiving an upgrade that will make it more attractive for passengers and prepare it for a new use.

Work has begun on the £500,000 upgrade of the Orthios jetty at Holyhead - currently being used as a base for sea trials and training by the world’s most advanced polar research vessel the RSS Sir David Attenborough (see pic-caption too).

The upgrade serves two purposes - including getting the jetty ready to receive plastics for recycling for Orthios' Plastics-to-Oil facilities at the former Anglesey Aluminium site.

It will also benefit Welsh tourism as Orthios said it will make the jetty "more attractive" to cruise ships when the holiday industry revives.

The improvement works are being managed for Orthios by Cadarn Consulting of Anglesey.

More on this story here and the newbuild polar research ship was off the North coast of Ireland recently.

Published in Cruise Liners

Ferry operator Stena Line has placed a quarter if its dock workers at Holyhead on furlough as Covid and Brexit hit demand for services.

The ferry giant, reports NorthWalesLive, has seen a slump in trade since January 1 due to several factors.

This includes the continued impact of the pandemic on passenger numbers, trade disruption due to Brexit and stockpiling in December.

It has seen some weekend services cancelled and next week Stena Estrid (see related story) will be replaced by the smaller Stena Horizon on the route.

This has sparked fears over the long term impact on Holyhead port with a surge in trade on direct Ireland/EU mainland services and a switch by some operators to direct Belfast routes for goods to and from Northern Ireland.

Port officials remain calm about the situation with confidence that these are short term impacts exacerbated by the pandemic.

But they have taken the decision to temporarily reduce staff numbers dockside with a 25% cut in port services operators.

These workers - who help to dock vessels and the ferries to load and unload - have been placed on the UK Government's Job Retention Scheme.

Further reading here on the reality of such developments. 

Published in Stena Line

A UK parliament committee has said it is deeply concerned that no decision has been made on the location of customs facilities for the ports of Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke - with just 21 days left before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The Port of Holyhead is the second busiest roll-on/roll-off freight ferry port in the UK (after Dover) and about half of the outbound freight from Dublin Port passes through it.

The confused state of customs preparation on the UK side could result in long delays for Irish truck drivers moving goods in and out of the country.

The Welsh government has prepared contingency plans in case facilities are not ready, including a plan to stack lines of trucks along the A55, which is the main road from the port that stretches across north Wales.

From 1 January, the UK will be outside the EU Customs Union and full customs procedures will apply to goods moving between Ireland and Great Britain.

The British government has decided to introduce customs and food safety checks in three phases between January and July mainly because the computer systems to process the extra customs paperwork are not ready and the physical facilities to carry out customs checks have not been built.

In a report published today, the Welsh Affairs Committee of the UK parliament said that even with a delay on introducing full scale customs checks until July, "there is an unacceptable level of risk that facilities will not be ready in either North or South West Wales for the full introduction of border checks and processes in July 2021".

For much more RTE reports on the Irish Sea routes and associated UK 'land-bridge'.

Published in Ferry

A Welsh MP has claimed the granting of a freeport status to the (ferry)port of Holyhead could “transform” the fortunes of the town and Anglesey as a whole.

The Government, writes NorthWalesLive, has already promised to create up to 10 freeports across the UK after Brexit.

Being included in such a free port zone would mean that they would be considered to be outside of the UK for customs purposes — meaning companies could import and export goods without paying the usual tariffs.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely reported to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become freeports in his autumn budget.

Such reports suggest the ports would be “fully operational” within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year.

Virginia Crosbie, in a pre-election pledge, promised to campaign for Holyhead to be given such status which she said would “put Holyhead on the international map” as well as “unleash hundreds of new, good quality jobs” and boost tourism.

For more on the north Wales ferryport (incl. the cruise sector) click here. 

Published in Ferry
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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