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Displaying items by tag: Houseboats

Waterways Ireland has been accused of attempting to gentrify Grand Canal Dock with plans to hike annual fees for houseboat dwellers by nearly 700 per cent.

Residents among the 30 vessels at the Dublin city centre mooring told The Journal that they have no objection in principle to an increase in the annual mooring fees, which include access to electricity, water and refuse collection.

But they argue that the sharp rise from €578 annually to €4,000, rising to €7,500 over six years, is “not affordable or realistic”.

In response, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says the proposed rise in charges is in line with the “superior” facilities at Grand Canal Dock — adding that any houseboat owners unwilling to pay would be “facilitated at an alternative location”.

The Journal has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

There are nearly 17,000 boats on the inland waterways, of which 9,000 are registered on the Shannon, 7,000 on the Erne, and 600 boats on the canals.

New bye-laws to control usage of the waterways are being prepared, which will have to deal with houseboats, and that is likely to be a hot topic.

Waterways Ireland, the North/South body, set up under the Good Friday Agreement, manages the waterways in Northern Ireland and the Republic and has drawn up draft Bye-Laws to replace the three sets of existing regulations controlling their use, some of which are 40 years old.

"About 150 of the boats on the canals are now being used either for full-time living or during the week by students at College"

Paddy Harkin, Inspector of Navigation at Waterways Ireland, has told me that the new Bye-Laws will have to deal with the ‘hot topic’ of houseboats on the canals, in which there has been a considerable increase close to Dublin. Pressure on housing is evident in that about 150 of the boats on the canals are now being used either for full-time living or during the week by students at College.

A public consultation, which closes on October 2, has raised several issues about the use of the waterways, including houseboats and safety and mooring in the harbours.

Listen to Paddy Harkin about the legislation plans in this clip below

You can hear the full interview on the Maritime Ireland Podcast. Details about the consultation are on: waterwaysireland.org

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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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

One young Northern Ireland couple have eschewed the heated land-based property ladder and put their savings afloat with a narrowboat, as ArmaghI reports.

Sophie Durand and Josh Boyd, both from Co Armagh and in their early 20s, have now adopted “slow, sustainable and also happier way of living” afloat on the inland waterways at Lough Erne.

Between them they raised the £53,000 (€62,000) to purchase the narrowboat Qisma — Arabic for ‘destiny’ — which has a permanent mooring at a monthly cost of £170 (€200).

And while their compact choice of home might not be to everyone’s taste, they’re now living mortgage-free after spending a fraction of the average deposit.

ArmaghI has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

Waterways Ireland is commissioning a feasibility study on options for sustainable on-the-water living on Ireland’s canal network.

Details of the request for tender (RFT) are available online, with the study expected to include analysis of on-the-water living conditions abroad as well as assessing the suitability of Ireland’s inland waterways for similar development, as promised last year by Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan.

Currently, so-called ‘liveaboard’ barge owners have found themselves in legal limbo as canal bye-laws prohibit the mooring of vessels in any one spot for longer than five days.

Despite a growing demand for houseboat living in Ireland, there are only 28 residential moorings across the country — with the majority at the heavily oversubscribed Grand Canal Dock.

The deadline for submissions on the RFT is 5pm on Thursday 9 August.

Published in Inland Waterways

“The body responsible for canal boating doesn’t seem to want boating on the canals.”

That’s the response of Gary Long, one of a number of barge owner on the Grand Canal in Dublin at the centre of a recent controversy over houseboat moorings on the inland waterway, as he spoke to The Irish Times this week.

The ‘liveaboard’ barge owners had faced eviction from their homes by Waterways Ireland this month as current by-laws prohibit mooring in any one spot for longer than five days.

The owners were given a reprieve of sorts by the New Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, and assured that their vessels would not be confiscated and sold off.

And the minister has promised that Waterways Ireland will engage in “finding a long-term, sustainable solution to regularise the use of the canals”.

But for now, liveaboards like Gary Long — and Luís Gómezcala who lives on his boat at the 12th Lock on the Royal Canal — remain in legal limbo.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has committed to looking for a long-term solution for people living on houseboats on the Grand Canal, it has emerged.

The news comes after last week’s final-hour reprieve for a number of barge owners who had faced eviction under the current by-law which prohibits mooring in any one spot for longer than five consecutive days.

They also faced the prospect of losing their vessels under original plans to lift them from the canal and impound them for a month before selling them off.

New Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, stepped in to assure these barge owners that theirs and others’ “genuine or legitimate houseboats or so-called ‘live-ons’” would not be removed.

He added that Waterways Ireland, the cross-border body that manages Ireland’s inland waterways, would now engage “in a collaborative process with all stakeholders around finding a long-term, sustainable solution to regularise the use of the canals”.

This is in addition to Waterways Ireland’s 10-year strategic review, which is expected to be available for consultation later this year — and will consider the likes of new infrastructure on the canal to cater for the requirements of houseboats.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Despite the growing demand for houseboat living in Ireland, there are only 28 residential moorings across the whole of the country, as RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland reports today (Wednesday 3 July).

Grand Canal Dock alone has a waiting list of some 215 hopefuls for its 20 places, and the programme hears from some of those fortunate enough to have made their home on Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland says it received as many as 10 queries a week from prospective houseboat residents — who will likely be waiting some time as only Grand Canal Dock and Shannon Harbour, with eight moorings, have provision for live-aboard homes.

Others make do with part-time waterways living, using the current 90-day permits to move around the country’s canals and rivers.

But with demand on the increase, it’s a situation that Waterways Ireland acknowledges has to change. RTÉ Radio 1 has more on the report HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

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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