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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#Rescue - An elderly man with a suspected broken ankle was rescued from one of Northern Ireland's most popular coastal walks at the weekend, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The injured man was on a part of the Causeway Coast Way not accessible by road, requiring coastguard teams from Ballycastle and Coleraine to attend and help him to a waiting ambulance.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

#MarineWildlife - Four new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) for Northern Ireland have been put forward for consultation, as the Coleraine Times reports.

Rathlin, Waterfoot, Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough are the proposed locations, variously home to marine species from the black guillemot to the white sea slug, as well as vulnerable geomorphological features like sea arches.

"We all have a stake in preserving and protecting our marine environment for future generations so I urge people to let us know their views on these proposed sites and species," said NI Environment Minister Mark Durkan, who launched the consultation today (Monday 14 December).

Members of the public in Northern Ireland have until 11 March 2016 to express their views, with full details on the consultation available online.

The Coleraine Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#LoughErne - Traditional boatbuilding on Lough Erne is set for a revival thanks to a £3 million lottery grant that will also support wildlife conservation on the Co Fermanagh waterway.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the £2.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership will be used to conserve heritage buildings in disrepair, preserve and improve wildlife habitats and support the management of some 500sqkm of the county's lakelands.

The reintroduction of traditional crafts is also a goal of the new funding, with the hopes of attracting more tourism to a region already popular with anglers.

In other marine wildlife news, Belfast Live reports that as many as 29 whales, dolphins and porpoises have washed up on Northern Ireland's beaches in the last four years.

The most prominent of these is the 43-foot fin whale washed up on Portstewart Strand over a month ago.

Published in Inland Waterways

#MarineWildlife - Seals are not threatening commercial fishing stocks in Irish waters, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon, according to new research led by Queen's University Belfast.

The findings show that seals are having no significant impact on populations of the most popular species of fish caught for commercial purposes along the south and west coasts of Ireland from Galway to Waterford.

The first comprehensive study of its kind, the conclusions of this research – led by QUB in collaboration with University College Cork and the Marine Institute – suggest that the seals do not compete with fishermen over the stocks.

The issue of seals in Irish waters has been controversial in recent years, and there have been calls from some quarters for culls of the common marine mammals.

"We need to emphasise that this work in no way says that seals cause no problems for the fishing industry," said lead researcher Dr Keith Farnsworld of QUB. "They do create significant problems for static fishing gear, such as the fixed nets used by estuarine salmon fishers, and they may also impact on numbers of wild salmon, although most salmon eaten on these islands is farmed.

"What we are saying is that for most commercially fished species off the south and west coasts of Ireland – herring, mackerel, cod, haddock, whiting and 30 other species – seals are having no significant negative effect on numbers.

"This is because the seals are eating much smaller fish than the larger, mature specimens that fishermen are required by law to catch. So seals are often eating the same species of fish as we buy in the supermarkets, but younger versions of them. And there are hundreds more younger fish than mature fish in any given species.

"In fact, we found evidence that seals may actually be doing the fishermen a favour, by eating some species that prey on the valuable stocks the fishermen are after."

Prof David Reid of the Marine Institute added that "what this work shows is that the only way to really resolve questions like this one is to be able to actually look at the detail, and work out what is going on.

"This work used material as diverse as the gut contents of the seals and the fish, through seal 'scat', to samples taken from commercial catches and research vessel surveys, and elaborate mathematical models.

"The idea of seals being direct competitors with the fishing boats for the fish out there intuitively seems pretty obvious. But actually, in this case, it is not really true. They both 'eat' fish. But not the same fish, and they do not compete with each other.

"This is not to say," he added, "that seals do not compete with fishermen in other ways. In other recent work we showed that fishermen who use set nets round the coast of Ireland can lose fish straight out of their nets to seals. But as with this study, we needed to go into the detail, and get our hands dirty to prove that."

The findings of this new research are based on data from an area roughly 100 miles off south and west Ireland, encompassing the coastlines of counties Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway. The data was collected from seal droppings of both grey and common seals and collated by researchers from University College Cork.

Supplementary information was obtained from the Marine Institute and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

The data was then interpreted by researchers at QUB's Institute for Global Food Security. Their conclusions have been published today in The Journal of Applied Ecology.

The study will be good news to the ears of seal fans in Northern Ireland, whose grey seal population is having a bumper year in 2015, as BBC News reports.

Co Down in particular is reporting strong numbers at such seal-friendly locations as the Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough, where 107 seal pups were counted this year – a sign of good health for the ecosystem as a whole.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Tragedy - A couple from Northern Ireland have drowned in South Africa just days after their wedding, as RTÉ News reports.

The bodies of 28-year-old John Rodgers and his 26-year-old wife Lynette from Holywood, Co Down were found on Friday evening (24 October) some 200 metres apart in shallow surf on a beach near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa's Western Cape province.

It's believed that they got into difficulty while swimming on what was the first day of their honeymoon. Strong rip currents are common in an area known for rough seas.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#Lifeguards - As RNLI lifeguards prepare to bring the 2015 season to a close this weekend in Northern Ireland, the charity that saves lives at sea has appealed to anyone planning a trip to the beach during the autumn and winter months to keep safe.

The season will draw to an end this Sunday 27 September, and RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott is keen to remind anyone going to the beach post season to be aware that the lifeguards won’t be on patrol but that the same beach safety advice applies.

"While we can expect our beaches to be generally quieter in the coming months, there will be people using the water for activities such as surfing and kitesurfing.

"In the absence of RNLI lifeguards during this period, we would encourage anyone going to the beach to check weather and tide times, let someone know when you are due back, and carry a means of communication.

"If you see someone in trouble, please call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. People can also get advice at their local RNLI lifeboat station."

During the 2015 season there was RNLI lifeguard cover on 10 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down: Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

Five of the busier beaches were patrolled during the Easter period and at weekends from then till the middle of June before the full time season commenced on all 10 beaches running to 6 September. Lifeguards have maintained a presence at the busier beaches at weekends during September and will finish on Sunday evening.

Reflecting on the season, Grocott said the lifeguards had dealt with a variety of incidents. "Despite the weather being unkind for most of the summer, we did see a lot of visitors to our beaches and RNLI lifeguards dealt with a range of things including rescues and major first aids involving body boarders, paddle boarders and kite surfers.

"They also responded to people who got into difficulty on the beach itself including a teenager who collapsed and a man who was struggling to breathe in his car.

"There were a number of unusual incidents to deal with this summer too, including responding to a sand dune fire, red flagging beaches in a severe thunder and lightning storm and dealing with the discovery of mortar bombs. Our lifeguards are highly skilled and trained and thanks to that they knew how to handle such incidents professionally when they occurred."

The lifeguards also provided safety cover and engaged with the public at key events during the summer including the Portrush Raft Race, the Tall Ships in Belfast, the Portrush Airshow, and the Glens of Antrim triathlon.

"We worked closely with our lifeboat crews at Portrush, Newcastle, Kilkeel and Red Bay, too, to respond to incidents and provide safety cover when required."

RNLI lifeguards also delivered education programmes to primary school children across Northern Ireland. Programmes such as Hit the Surf enabled the lifeguards to impart important beach safety advice through theoretic and practical lessons in lifesaving and surf-based skills, local hazards and the beach environment.

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - RNLI lifeguards commenced full-time summer patrol on 10 beaches in Northern Ireland at the weekend.

Following weeks of intensive training in preparation for the new season, the lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on seven beaches along the Causeway Coast and three in Co Down.



The beaches include Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield. 



Five of the busier beaches had lifeguard cover during the Easter period which was followed by a weekend patrol on six beaches throughout April, May and June. 



During weekend patrol on Sunday 14 June, RNLI lifeguards on Portstewart Strand dealt with their first major first aid incident of the summer.



At around 4.30pm, lifeguard Mairead McKeague was on duty at the water’s edge and patrolling the area between the red and yellow flags when she spotted a teenage boy at the east of the beach who had slipped on rocks and hit his head.



McKeague alerted senior lifeguard Damian McCauley and lifeguard Clara Doran, who responded immediately while she maintained patrol of the beach.



Lifeguard James Shannon, meanwhile, acted as the communications liaison between the RNLI and their colleagues in the coastguard and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service who also responded.



On scene within five minutes, McCauley and Doran proceeded to carry out first aid and treat the casualty for a head wound. They were joined five minutes later by a NIAS Rapid Response Paramedic and the Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team, who proceeded to transport the casualty to their vehicle.



Speaking following the incident, RNLI lifeguard supervisor Tim Doran said: "Our lifeguards worked well together, spotting the incident quickly, communicating with each other and reacting swiftly to administer first aid to the casualty.

"They used their lifeguard training and skills to good effect with this incident serving as an example of the vigilant work our lifeguards do in responding to events that happen on the beach as well as those that occur in the water." 



From Saturday 20 June, the RNLI took up full-time daily duty on all 10 beaches continuing to Sunday 6 September, when weekend duty will then resume on selected beaches throughout September.



Lifeguards will be on the beach daily between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in Co Down. 



Ahead of the new season, the RNLI has reminded visitors to the beach to ask the lifeguards for water safety advice, and to call on a lifeguard if they see anyone in difficulty.



RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott also encouraged visitors to bear in mind some key safety messages.

"The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags.

"Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the coastguard."



Throughout the summer, the lifeguards will deal with a range of incidents.

"While the same safety advice applies to all our beaches, we do tend to see patterns of activity that are more specific to some beaches than others," said Grocott.

"Whiterocks, for example, is most affected by last winter’s storm damage and there is a lot of coastal erosion there. It is also a beach known for its waves and swells so it is popular with surfers and body boarders.

"Benone, Portstewart and Portrush East, meanwhile, are large beaches which we know will attract a lot of people throughout the summer. We can also expect to be exceptionally busy on vank holiday weekends, during the fortnight holiday period in July and if and when the weather peaks.



"Having a good knowledge of the profile of our beaches and the types of activities that are popular on each of them helps to guide how we carry out our lifeguard training before the season begins so our lifeguards can be prepared for all the incidents they will encounter."

Published in Water Safety

#Angling - Many of the world's top anglers will be at the Craigavon Lakes this weekend for the 13th World Championships in predator bank fishing with lures.

And as the Lurgan Mail reports, Team Ireland will be fielding a local in Lurgan man Chris Laverty against stiff competition from as far afield as Russia on 23-24 May.

Pike, perch and stocked rainbow trout will be the anglers' quarry in two four-hour blocks on Saturday and Sunday – but they won't be taking any home as it's strictly a catch-and-release contest using barbless hooks.

The Lurgan Mail has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Are developers causing difficulties for disabled anglers in Co Antrim?

That's what the Six Mike Water Trust's Michael Martin has alleged, as Farming Life reports, with claims that housing developments on the Kirbys’ Lane river walk are "destroying the river corridor" at the disabled angling stand.

What's more, a proposed development for 400 homes on the Six Mile Water's flood plain downstream in an area home to a variety of aquatic wildlife is "surely... a contravention to EEC Water Framework and Habitats Directives."

Farming Life has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#WaterSafety - RNLI lifeguards will be making a welcome return to a number of selected beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down next weekend ahead of the Easter holidays.

After undergoing intensive training in preparation, the charity’s lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on Tyrella Beach in Co Down and on Benone Strand, Portstewart Strand, East and West Strands in Portrush and Whiterocks on the Causeway Coast.



Lifeguards will begin their patrols on Good Friday (3 April) between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in Co Down and continue daily to Sunday 12 April.



Cover will be provided every weekend until the end of June ahead of the summer season, when a daily duty will get underway on all 10 RNLI lifeguarded beaches in Northern Ireland.

"Our lifeguards are looking forward to going on patrol and meeting people who come to the beach," said RNLi lifeguard manager Mick Grocott. "We would encourage visitors to speak to our lifeguards, ask for safety advice, and most importantly call on them should they find themselves in difficulty." 



Ahead of Easter, the RNLI has reiterated its advice to people planning a beach trip to stay well away from dangerous cliff edges which have been impacted by recent weather conditions.



Winter storms changed the profile of all the beaches with extensive damage at Whiterocks, Portrush East and Portstewart where there are high and unstable sand cliffs.



The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to: check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water; only go swimming at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags; and avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.

If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.



For more safety information on the beach you plan to visit, you can download the RNLI’s Beachfinder app to find lifeguarded beaches and more information.

Published in Inland Waterways
Page 6 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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