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Displaying items by tag: Watersport

Ambitions for a National Watersport Centre in Dun Laoghaire could be revived following the launch of a new State fund supporting infrastructure for multi-sports projects.

Applications are now being invited for the the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund, launched by Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin this week.

The scheme is initially open to applications from national governing bodies (NGBs) and local authorities (LAs) and will consist of two streams.

Stream one, which is aimed at smaller NGBs and LAs, will help fund the development of proposals to tender stage. Stream two will assist applicants to bring projects from tender stage to completion.

The scheme encourages multi-functional sports facilities that will serve more than one sport — which is in line with previous proposals to make Dun Laoghaire a national hub for sailing, kayaking, rowing and more.

Sharing between sports, NGBs and LAs is encouraged and such projects will be viewed more favourably by the fund. The scheme will also require a minimum contribution of 30% from applicants toward the cost of any works/design.

The new fund is separate and distinct from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s long-running Sports Capital Programme (SCP), which is focused on smaller capital projects where the maximum grant is €150,000.

The full terms and conditions of the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund and application forms can be found HERE.

#Tourism - Activities on the water feature heavily in The Irish Times' new guide to adventure holidays around the country.

Kitesurfing and kayaking on the coast are go-to pursuits at all times of year, but some activities that may be less familiar include coasteering – a combination of rock climbing and scrambling across the more rugged parts of the coastline.

Thrills can also be had by the less athletically inclined by float tubing – essentially swimming with a giant inflatable ring – and 'ride and tide', a mix of horse riding on sand and through surf and kayaking to an offshore island.

But for those of a calmer disposition, there's free diving, which employs yoga and breathing techniques to relax the body while under water, and the sedate charms of canoeing on the Barrow.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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#InlandWaters - Waterways Ireland's 2015 Sponsorship Programme opened this Wednesday 29 October for waterway and waterside recreational events taking place along waterways managed by Waterways Ireland.

Taking place annually for the past nine years, the Waterways Ireland Sponsorship Programme has supported angling, canoeing, rowing, sailing and power sports competitions, learning experiences, community, historical and educational events for people with and without disabilities.

Éanna Rowe, head of marketing and communications with Waterways Ireland, said: "Communities, clubs and associations in towns and villages along rural waterways have participated in small and large events.

"Significant numbers of people have been encouraged to engage and experience something new about the waterways."

Rowe added: "The myriad events supported by Waterways Ireland play both an economic and social role in supporting waterway communities and recreational activity along Ireland's inland waterways."

Applications are open to anyone intending to run recreational waterway and waterside events in 2015. For an application pack please check out the Waterways Ireland website HERE.

Alternatively you can email Waterways Ireland at [email protected] or call 071 96 50787. Terms and conditions apply.

The closing date the receipt of completed applications is 5 December 2014 at 3pm.

Waterways Ireland is the recreation and navigation authority for the Barrow Navigation, Erne System, Grand Canal, Lower Bann Navigation, Royal Canal, Shannon-Erne Waterway and the Shannon Navigation.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Weather - Irish Water Safety has urged anyone heading to the water on lakes, rivers or beaches during this week's heatwave to take extra precautions as Met Éireann issues a 'yellow warning' amid soaring temperatures.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, IWS chief John Leach underlined the increased risk of drownings during warmer periods, especially among young people in their teens or early twenties to go swimming in unsupervised areas.

Only today RTÉ News is reporting on the death of a 21-year-old Lisa Knight, who drowned while swimming with friends on the River Feale in Co Limerick in the early hours of this morning.

The heatwave, which is expected to peak on Friday with temperatures in many parts breaking the 30s, has drawn people to coastal areas in droves.

Also on TheJournal.ie, the Irish Coast Guard has reported a 40% increase in call-outs relating to watersport and other leisure activities over the last three weeks compared to the same period in 2012.

A significant number of these relate to rogue jetskiers "tormenting" beach-goers by racing through designated swimming areas on their personal water craft, according to IRCG operations manager Declan Geoghehan.

In related news, the Irish Independent says hoax calls to the coastguard have increased 40-fold since the IRCG was added to the main emergency services accessible by dialling 999 or 112 - and now constitute the "vast majority" of calls received.

Published in Weather

#Shannon - Passages on the River Shannon in 2013 so far have fallen more than 50% compared to numbers for the same period a decade ago, according to the Irish Waterways History blog written by Afloat's inland correspondent, Brian Goggin.

Using statistics supplied by Waterways Ireland, the site plotted a graph that shows an overall decline in lock and bridge passages on the Shannon in the months from January to May each year since 2003, with a slight spike in 2007 the only buck in the downward trend.

Though the figures do not record all uses of the waterway (such as sailing, angling and other watersports) and do not account for variables such as the weather, they are indicative - the site claims - of "the Shannon's most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business".

Indeed, the figures apparently show that boat hire passage numbers have fallen from 11,440 in January-May 2003 to just 4,781 in the same months this year.

Even private boat passages have been falling from a peak in 2009 to just below their 2003 numbers, if the site's interpretation of the stats is anything to go by.

However, a source close to Afloat.ie says that the falling numbers may be skewed by a growing emphasis on larger-capacity vessels on Ireland's inland waterways, with eight- and 12-berth boats supplanting older four-berth vessels, and families and groups consolidating their recreational boating.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year turns out, and whether the overall numbers from January to December will tell a different story of the state of the Shannon and other waterways.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Festivals - "Tens of thousands" of visitors are expected to flock to the City of the Tribes later this month for the first Galway Sea Festival over the June bank holiday weekend, according to the Galway Advertiser.

Dubbed the 'Mini-Volvo' by locals, the four-day event from 31 May till 3 June is hoped to recreate the celebratory atmosphere of last summer's successful Volvo Ocean Race finale, with a wide range of events both on and off the waters of Galway Bay.

Highlights include the festival regatta led by the Galway Bay Sailing Club's parades of sail on the Friday and Saturday evenings, and a traditional boat regatta by Badoiri na Cladaigh.

Watersports enthusiasts can get a taste of canoeing, diving, sea kayaking and windsurfing over the weekend, which also coincides with World Oceans Day - with family-friendly activities at the Galway Atlantaquaria on Sunday 2 June - and the International Canoe Polo Championships at Claddagh Basin.

Preceding the festival on Thursday 30 May will be the Bright Blue Sea Conference, a major international symposium on marine science, renewable energy, the environment and the 'blue economy'.

Last month it was reported that the Galway Sea Festival received the financial backing of Galway City Council, spurred by its aims to promote Galway as a maritime destination or commerce and tourism.

The Galway Advertiser has much more on the festival HERE.

Published in Maritime Festivals

#IrishHarbours - Funding of €7.4 million for urgent remedial works at six regional harbours has been announced by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.

The funding will pay for repairs and safety works on essential harbour infrastructure, and is likely to benefit the local economy, promote leisure activities and support the fishing industry.

“This funding will allow essential works at these regional harbours on piers, walls and harbour structures," said the minister. "This work is necessary as part of their transfer from central Government to local authority control.

“Harbours play an important role in their communities in terms of fishing, cargo and leisure and play an increasingly important role in tourism and watersports."

Minister Varadkar added: "The large-scale safety or construction projects planned for Kinsale, and for Baltimore & Skibbereen Harbour this year will be able to go ahead thanks to this funding. Smaller scale projects at other harbours can also proceed, including essential works at Arklow Harbour.”

The funding has been allocated to the following harbours:
 
Arklow - €3,588,000
Baltimore & Skibbereen - €1,165,000
Bantry Bay - €100,000
Kinsale - €1,467,000
Tralee & Fenit - €750,000
Wexford - €329,500
 
The funding has been concentrated on remedial works to ensure that the harbours are in a fit condition during their transfer to local authority control.

Twelve of the 13 regional harbours have transferred to date, with 11 being taken over by local authorities, and one designated a fisheries harbour.

Published in Irish Harbours

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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