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Displaying items by tag: Waterways Ireland

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, visited the Shannon region to mark the successes of the first year of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan. As part of their trip, they visited one of the six projects implemented in the first year and met with representatives of Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and the cathoirligh and chief executives of Westmeath, Longford, Roscommon and Leitrim county councils.

Aimed at positioning the Shannon as a hub destination for international and domestic tourism, the Shannon Tourism Masterplan is the first dedicated plan undertaken on the entire Shannon Region. A collaborative project led by Waterways Ireland, with Fáilte Ireland and ten local authorities along the River Shannon and the Shannon-Erne Waterway, it sets out an integrated framework for sustainable tourism development along the Shannon across 2020 – 2030. The Masterplan identifies the measures needed to develop the necessary infrastructure, products, and experiences to reposition the Shannon Region as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

An estimated €76.5million investment is required over the next 10 years to deliver on the Masterplan ambitions. This capital expenditure will deliver on the seven priority areas in the plan. These include interventions such as enhanced harbours and waterside public realms in Shannon towns; improved amenities for boat-users and infrastructure for activity-providers, clubs and communities to operate; a rejuvenated cruising experience along the Shannon; remote moorings and tranquillity zones along the Shannon, and new recreational infrastructure, including a substantial network of walking and cycling trails. It is intended that this will, in turn, support growth in the visitor economy by the creation of new enterprises and jobs through enhanced seasonality, increased vibrancy in local communities, and protection of the river’s special environmental qualities.

In year one of the plan, six projects have been delivered, with a further two in development. Delivered projects are as follows:

  • Leitrim: Two projects have been completed – The refurbishment of Dromod Harbour and the development of new floating moorings in Rooskey.
  • Roscommon: A canal walk has been developed, in Rooskey providing a waterside traffic-free, multi-activity loop to encourage visitors to spend longer in the town.
  • Longford: A new floating mooring at Redbridge has been completed on the eastern shore of Lough Ree.
  • Westmeath: Floating moorings have been added between the railway bridge and the town bridge in Athlone, with a new slipway installed south of the lock to facilitate increased access to the river.

These projects have been developed with €890,000 in Fáilte Ireland funding, along with funding of €219,000 from the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

Two further projects in County Galway are in development, to be completed in 2022. Connaught Harbour in Portumna is being redeveloped to increase mooring capacity and its recreational and amenity value, with €1.35million in Fáilte Ireland funding. Meanwhile, a Blueway linking Connaught Harbour to the Galway County Council-owned Town Recreational Park is also being developed. Running through ESB lands, this will create an off-road loop for multi-activity users.

Commenting, Minister O’Brien said: “The success of year one of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan is a great example of collaboration between Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the 10 local authorities along the Shannon water system.

“I have noted the excellent progress already in the counties of Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon and Westmeath, with more yet to come. I fully support the aims of the Masterplan, which will deliver a series of projects impacting on the economy and jobs, whilst protecting and enhancing the valuable environmental, social, and cultural values of the Shannon. I look forward to working with my colleagues across Government to support its implementation.”

Minister Noonan said: “I commend Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and their local authority partners in Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon and Westmeath for their achievements in year one of the implementation of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan. By enhancing the environment and the economy of Ireland’s Hidden Heartland Region, they are creating a better place for our communities to thrive.”

Paul Kelly, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, added: “The Shannon Tourism Masterplan provides a clear roadmap for future tourism investment within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands that will transform the region to deliver a better spread of tourism and visitor activity within the midlands. Fáilte Ireland’s commitment to implementing this plan is underlined by an initial €2.1m capital investment and it is fantastic to see some of the transformative infrastructural changes and enhanced facilities included in the investment come to fruition, including the new and enhanced waterside amenities in Athlone, Red Bridge and Rooskey and the development of floating moorings at locations along the Shannon.”

Waterways Ireland has invested more than €40million on and along the Shannon, creating the foundation for new tourism and recreation opportunities for communities and business. These foundations include infrastructure such as marinas; moorings; service facilities for boat-users and tourists; and the development of on- and off-water activities and experiences, such as Blueways and Greenways.

Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh said: “This plan provides a strategic direction and a growth pathway for the coming years for tourism along the Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway. The plan is an exemplar of a collaborative approach, and one Waterways Ireland will use to produce developmental plans for our other navigations. I am in no doubt that when it is fully implemented, the tourism experience on the Shannon will be transformed.”

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland advises users of the Grand Canal towpath in Co Kildare from Lock N1 in Osberstown to Soldier’s Island in the Sallins area that sections of this towpath will be closed to the public until Wednesday 22 December.

This is to facilitate essential ongoing canal maintenance works in the area, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says.

Published in Inland Waterways

Nichola Mallon MLA, Minister for Infrastructure today (24th November) met with Waterways Ireland CEO John McDonagh at its Headquarters in Enniskillen.

John Mc Donagh briefed Minister Mallon on a range of key projects including the 10-year Strategy and Waterways Ireland’s draft Climate Action Plan which is currently undergoing public consultation.

Waterways Ireland is the custodian of Ireland’s inland navigable waterways and sees climate change as a critical challenge for the organisation and its stakeholders. As the body responsible for vital shared heritage across Ireland and Northern Ireland, there is an opportunity and a responsibility to take a leadership role in climate action. Waterways Ireland has identified transformative and innovative ways to engage in climate action initiatives over the lifetime of the plan to reduce emissions by at least 51% and improve energy efficiency by at least 50%. It also addresses Waterways Ireland’s aim to be a net-zero organisation by 2050.

"Waterways Ireland’s aim is to be a net-zero organisation by 2050"

Under the draft plan, Waterways Ireland commits to considering climate action in decisions around the acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal of its assets, as well as the procurement of energy, consumables and third-party services. These activities will be supported by targeted actions and initiatives in priority areas to implement climate mitigation and adaptation measures. Progress in achieving key results will be measured quarterly, ensuring that activities are agile and can keep pace with carbon budgets and other measures developed for the sector.

John Mc Donagh Waterways Ireland CEO said “I welcome Minister Mallon to Waterways Ireland, to share our vision & plans for the future We are custodians of the incredible natural and built heritage with which we have been entrusted. Over the next 10 years, we have an ambitious plan to reimagine and develop a sustainable waterway network which contributes significantly to the recreation, social, economic and environmental life in our communities.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all masters of vessels and water users that the Head of the Shannon rowing event will take place on Saturday 4 December.

The event will take place downstream of Carrick-on-Shannon bridge for a distance of 3.5km.

The rowing starts at navigation maker known locally as White Woman/White Lady and will proceed back to the Marina downstream of of the bridge.

Rowing events will take place at 11am and 2pm on the day.

Masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation are requested to proceed with additional caution in the vicinity of the rowing events.

Published in Rowing

Waterways Ireland has issued a reminder to all masters and owners of vessels that all canal permits expired on 1 November and must now be renewed.

Permits can be renewed online at the Waterways Ireland website.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways warns that vessels not compliant with the Canal Act 1986 (Bye-Laws) 1988, such as

  • Vessels with no permit, Bye Law 6(8);
  • Vessels non-attended and apparently abandoned, Bye Law 6(8);
  • Vessels doubled moored and causing obstruction (sunk), Bye Law 27 (3); and
  • Vessels deemed to be/likely to cause a hazard to navigation, Bye Law 33(3)

will be removed from the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation. Removed vessels may then be subsequently disposed of in accordance with Bye Law 34(2).

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, last year saw a big jump in the number of boat removals from the inland waterways under a programme to remove abandoned, sunken and “non-compliant” boats and structures from the canals network.

Published in Inland Waterways

Six Waterways Ireland projects have been chosen as finalists in this year’s All Ireland Community & Council Awards, which will be announced later this month.

They include the Royal Canal Greenway, the scenic 130km walking and cycling amenity stretching alongside the historic 225-year-old canal which was launched in March this year.

Elsewhere, Waterways Ireland invested over €100,000 in essential restoration works to the Napoleonic structure Fort Eliza, along the Shannon Navigation in Co Offaly.

The arts were also a focus for the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways, resulting in a collaboration with the National College fo Art and Design (NCAD) that produced a digital zibaldone — or scrapbook of knowledge — capturing students artistic interpretations of waterways heritage.

Also in the running in this year’s awards are the Virtual Heritage Open Day, the Virtual Reality Canal Experience and the Green Dublin Docklands initiative.

Now in their 15th year, All Ireland Community & Council Awards — which are presented by IPB Insurance and LAMA — recognise and celebrate community and councils working together.

The awards ceremony takes place on Saturday 27 November.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

Masters of vessels on the Royal Canal are advised that two lock gates in West Dublin and North Kildare will be replaced over the winter period starting from this week, according to Waterways Ireland.

Works will begin on the middle gates at the 12th Lock in Castleknock and the deep gates at Lock 15 near Kilcock on Monday 15 November, with an expected end date for both works of 14 January 2022. Waterways Ireland apologies for any inconvenience caused to users of this inland waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that Athlone Lock will be temporarily closed on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 November to facilitate further flood relief works.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation of the installation of two red markers at the weir boom upstream of Rooskey lock on the Leitrim/Roscommon border.

These additional red markers are intended to guide vessels away from the weir boom and the shallow water in that area of the inland waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that Athlone Lock will be temporarily closed from next Monday 1 November until Wednesday 3 November inclusive to facilitate flood relief works.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

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

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Afloat 2020

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