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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#Surfing - Surfers from across the North West paired up to take part in a unique event to raise money for mental health charity Aware NI last week.

The money raised at the tandem surfing competition, run by Portrush-based surfing school Troggs, will help Award NI provide vital services for people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.

Teams of surfers took to Portrush East Strand on Sunday 20 March to perform tricks and manoeuvres in pairs in an attempt to impress the experienced judges.

The tandem surfing competition, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, raised over £300 (€372) for Aware NI.

The event was the brainchild of Carl Russell, owner of Troggs Surf School, after some of his own clients recommended the benefits of surfers in overcoming the own depression.

“The idea came about from my brother Jamie Russell and I realising that we could experience surfing together on the same board when surf conditions weren’t favourable for our shortboards,” he said.

“We ended up having as much fun if not more tandem surfing as we did surfing normally. Then the link for the competition was made to show that the proven research that surfing helps depression is a real tool that can be used."

Russell explained that surfing "has had positive effect on people and clients of ours with mental health issues which is why we have chosen this charity, plus this professional organisation really helps people.

"We run custom surf programmes for groups affected by the issues mentioned. Our event is due to run again September-October 2016 and will be even bigger.

“Thanks to all our sponsors gregwallace.co.uk, garymccall.co.uk, couconoutdoor.com, Brew Note Portrush & AC Electronics Coleraine.

Only last year the French seaside town of Biarritz become the first in the world to prescribe surfing lessons as a way to treat depression to heart disease.

Some 20 doctors are taking part in a pilot scheme in Europe’s surf capital to encourage the notoriously pill-popping French to cut back on medication and take to the waves.

“Aware fully endorse the message that physical exercise cannot only improve your physical health but also your mental health,” said Kieran Hughes, fundraising officer at Aware NI.

“The benefits of physical exercise for mental health are widely recognised and surfing is one of the best examples of that. Participants are getting excellent exercise but also getting out in the open and close to nature which can only be a positive thing.

“We would like to sincerely thank Carl and everyone at Troggs Surf School for raising money for Aware. All the money raised will go towards Aware’s Support Services and education programmes to help people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.”

Published in Surfing

#Lifeguards - RNLI lifeguards are hitting the surf again and bringing their popular beach safety programmes to school children and youth groups in Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of children have already been through the programmes and learned valuable and important advice to keep safe in the water and along the shore, in a fun and interactive way.

Last summer 345,027 people visited the 10 RNLI-lifeguarded beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down. Of these people 27,043 entered the water while 9,975 took part in surfing or other water leisure actives such as body boarding and kite surfing.

The lifeguards responded to 182 incidents, coming to the aid of 218 people. As well as rescues carried out in the water, lifeguards also dealt with falls, first aid and lost children.

The RNLI lifeguarding season has already begun on five beaches along the Causeway Coast and this cover will be extended for the peak summer season from Saturday 25 June through to Sunday 4 September.

In the run up to this and before schools break up for the summer, the RNLI is encouraging primary schools and youth groups to sign-up for its two beach safety education programmes.

The ‘Meet the Lifeguards’ and ‘Hit the Surf’ programmes teach young people the importance of beach safety in a fun and practical way.’

‘Meet the Lifeguards’ is an interactive session where RNLI lifeguards visit a school or youth group and teach the children key safety advice that they then put to use when they visit a beach with family and friends.

Children learn what the different beach safety flags and signs mean, the safety of using inflatables, the dangers of 'tombstoning', sun safety and how to identify natural and man-made hazards in and around the water. They will also learn about body boarding and surfing safety and how to escape a rip current. Information on tides and waves is included in the session.

The ‘Hit the Surf’ programme, meanwhile, offers a unique opportunity for school children or youth groups to get practical lessons in lifesaving and beach safety at one of the 10 RNLI-lifeguarded beaches located on the North Coast and in Co Down, or inland for the first time on the shores of Lough Erne in Cp Fermanagh.

The two-and-a-half-hour session includes a lesson on staying safe at the beach and explains the role of the RNLI and its lifeguards. It is followed by a lifesaving lesson and learning surf-based skills while building the children’s confidence in the sea. They will also learn about local hazards and the beach environment.

For more information on how to book your school onto an RNLI education programme in Northern Ireland, contact RNLI lifeguard supervisor Jenny Thompson 077 8992 4563 or email [email protected]

Published in Water Safety

#Angling - Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has published a digest of statistics for salmon and inland fisheries in the department's jurisdiction.

The main purpose of these statistics is to give an overview of the DCAL fisheries sector in Northern Ireland. The latest available data have been drawn together from a number of published and unpublished sources.

Some key statistics from the report include the following:

  • There were 25,667 angling licences and 17,984 DCAL permits sold in 2014.
  • 1,024 rod licences and 1,013 permits were checked in the DCAL public angling estate in 2014/15.
  • There were approximately 361,000 salmon fry stocked from Bushmills Hatchery to rivers in Northern Ireland in 2014.
  • No salmon were caught in commercial fishing nets in 2014.
  • The estimated return of wild adult salmon to the River Bush in 2014 was 963 and was below the previous 10-year average (2004-2013) of 1,239.
  • The 10-year overall eel catch average in Lough Neagh (2005-2014) of 399 tonnes is 35% less than the previous ten year eel catch average (1995-2004) of 612 tonnes.
  • The eel escapement estimate for the Neagh-Bann River Basin District for 2014 was 253 tonnes and above the 200 tonnes target.

The bulletin is available on the DCAL website or from the Research and Statistics Branch, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG (Tel: 028 9081 6971; Email: [email protected]).

In other news, Northern Ireland's Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed a new platform designed to accommodate disabled anglers at Copeland Reservoir in Carrickfergus.

The concrete platform is built to a high specification and gives anglers who use wheelchairs close and safe access to the water.

“Angling is an integral part of our leisure offering not only for local people, but also for tourists," said the minister this week. "It is a very relaxing and peaceful way of passing time and unwinding in the open air, and I am committed to ensuring that wheelchair users have equal access to angling."

Minister Ní Chuilín said the new platform "is designed to ensure that wheelchair-using anglers can get as close as possible to the water’s edge, safely. There is also a car park located right beside it, further enhancing accessibility.

“There is a considerable disabled angling fraternity locally, with over 1,700 one-year disabled angling licences and 1,500 day permits being issued each year. This is a significant number, and I want to see even more disabled people experiencing the benefits of angling for themselves."

The new stand "offers disabled anglers another choice of location to fish, and visit the surrounding area. It brings to more than 30 the number of public angling estate locations which are accessible to anglers with a disability," the minister added.

“I commend staff in my department’s Inland Fisheries Group who have constructed the platform and I hope that it caters for disabled anglers for many years to come.”

Published in Angling

#MarineWildlife - Dolphin and porpoise monitoring off the North Coast got a boost this week thanks to a £15,000 NI government grant for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), as Causeway Coastal Community reports.

“This is good news for the IWDG and for those with a passion for marine wildlife," said Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Mark Durkan on funding for the acoustic monitoring project, which will focus on cetacean populations off Portrush and the nearby Giant's Causeway.

The project also includes an outreach programme with local schools and communities to get local people invested in the protection of marine wildlife on their shores. Causeway Coastal Community has more on the story HERE.

Minister Durkan is also the subject of calls to add the waters off Islandmagee to recently recommended Marine Conservation Zones for Northern Ireland over fears that a new gas power station could create a marine 'dead zone' in the area.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Islandmagee locals are appealing to Northern Ireland's Environment Minister to add their waters to the list of recently proposed Marine Conservation Zones.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the call comes over fears that a planned Gaelectric gas power station could create a 'dead zone' in the North Channel caused by brine runoff from the plant.

Gaeletric maintains that even under a worst-case scenario, any impact of brine pumped into the sea on marine wildlife and plantlife would be low.

But the Islandmagee Community Residents Association argues that the development poses a threat to a "delicate and biodiverse" ecosystem in the area, which is home to vulnerable colonies of puffins as well as black guillemots and razorbills, among others.

As reported in December on Afloat.ie, Rathlin, Waterfoot, Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough were put forward for consideration as Marine Conservation Zones, the public consultation for which closed last Friday 11 March.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Aurora - Skywatchers in Northern Ireland were treated to a spectacular light show last night (Monday 7 March) as a "lucky combination" of weather conditions made the aurora borealis visible across much of the country.

The video below, via Tam Mullen and the Belfast Telegraph, shows how the Northern Lights looked over Belfast and Lough Neagh.

Published in Weather

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI rescued four people on Saturday night (13 February) after their angling boat got into difficulty off the Co Down coast.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.30pm on Saturday following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go to the aid of a 36ft angling boat, which had suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point while on passage from Howth to Carrickfergus.

Under coxswain Aidan Riley and with five crew members on board, the lifeboat launched within minutes and made its way to the scene some 16 nautical miles from the station.

Weather conditions at the time were described as fresh with rough seas and Force 5-6 winds blowing.

With the vessel losing battery power, Newcastle RNLI advised the crew to switch the boat’s lights off until the lifeboat was closer to their location.

Once on scene 80 minutes later, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and once confident that no one was in any immediate danger, the lifeboat crew began to work with the angling crew to set up a towline.

The vessel was then taken under tow and brought safely back to Ardglass.

Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Aidan Riley said: "The vessel was quite a bit away from the shore when it sustained engine difficulties and the crew made the right call to ask for assistance.

"We were delighted to help and glad to see the boat and her crew returned safely to Ardglass."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#NorthCoast - Ireland's North Coast – one of the island's emerging surfing hotspots – was the big winner at the 2016 OutdoorNI Awards, as the Coleraine Times reports.

A third of the accolades presented on the night went to activities and locations around the Portrush coastal region, as voted on by the public.

Among them was the song for Best Coastal Experience, awarded to Troggs surf school in Portrush – while the Causeway Coast & Glens was named Best Adventure Destination for its abundance of opportunities not just for surfing and sea kayaking but also hiking and coasteering.

The Coleraine Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Angling - Anglers in Northern Ireland have been reminded to report their catches from 2015 to the Loughs Agency by this Thursday 21 January at the latest.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, anyone who holds a Foyle and Carlingford rod license for salmon and sea trout angling is legally obliged to inform the Loughs Agency of how many times they went fishing and whether they caught any fish.

This data is necessary for the agency to gauge the health of fish stocks as well as the popularity of angling in any particular area under its remit.

"A lot of anglers are not aware that they must make a return within 21 days of the end of the season, even if they never actually went fishing or didn't catch anything and have a nil return to make," said the Lough's Agency's Art Niven.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

#NIMarinePlan - The latest update for stakeholders from Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment (DOE) on the draft Marine Plan details the next steps before the formal approval process.

The draft plan is currently with consultants AECOM Ltd for the sustainability appraisal, a requirement before putting forward then plan for public consultation.

It's expected that stakeholders will be engaged on the draft plan before the end of March, with a publicly accessible map viewer displaying "a comprehensive set of spatial data relevant to the Northern Ireland marine area" to be made available in time for the consultation.

In the meantime, the DOE says work has progressed on other impact assessments and screen procedures associated with the plan in terms of rural proofing and habitats regulations, among others.

And the Marine Plan team continues to engage with district councils throughout Northern Ireland on their obligations with respect to marine planning "in making decisions on planning applications and enforcement action and in taking forward community and local development plans".

Progress on the Marine Plan from 2009 to 2015 is detailed in a report published in October and available to read or download at the DOE website HERE.

Published in News Update
Page 5 of 27

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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