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Blue Flags totalling a record 93 have been awarded to beaches and marinas across the country for the 2021 bathing season.

Four additional beaches are receiving the award this year, which is given for compliance with sewage treatment as well as for the quality of bathing water.

Four new beaches are among the 93 Blue Flags awarded by An Taisce for this year's bathing season.

They include two beaches in Cork. Inchydoney East Beach has achieved Blue Flag Status for the first time. While Warren, Cregane Strand gets its Blue Flag status back for the first time since 2013.

More from RTE News

Published in Coastal Notes

#clarebeaches – A newly published report by the EPA on Bathing Water Quality around Ireland has found that County Clare's 11 designated bathing areas were adjudged to have "Excellent Water Quality" during 2014.

The marine environment news has been described as "hugely significant and positive news" by Clare County Council in light of the newly introduced EU standards for bathing areas, deemed by the EPA to be almost twice as strict as those applied in previous years.

Bathing waters were classified into four categories, namely 'Poor', 'Sufficient', 'Good' and the newly introduced 'Excellent' category. The classification system is based on the levels of E. Coli and intestinal enterococci detected in the bathing water during the 2014 bathing season.

Clare is one of five Local Authority areas to receive "Excellent" classifications for each of its bathing areas, the others being Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Kerry, Leitrim and Louth.

Clare's 11 bathing areas are Ballyalla Lake (Ennis), White Strand (Milltown Malbay), Ballycuggeran (Lough Derg), Cappa Pier (Kilrush), Bishopsquarter, White Strand (Doonbeg), Kilkee, Spanish Point, Lahinch, Fanore and Mountshannon (Lough Derg).

"This is a magnificent achievement for County Clare and those who work throughout the year to safeguard our bathing areas from environmental pollution and to ensure that the public can enjoy these locations in the knowledge that they are bathing in clean waters," stated Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

He added: "This clean sweep for Clare is something that all tourism interests in the County should be aware of as we must now promote our quality beaches and other bathing locations, particularly in light of the growing numbers of visitors arriving in Clare during their journey along the Wild Atlantic Way."

"I wish to pay tribute to the Environment Section of Clare County Council and those living and working in the vicinity of Clare's 11 bathing locations for their due diligence and hard work in delivering this result. It's one that benefits our County's reputation and of course, the environment," said Councillor Crowe.

"The Council is delighted that each of the 11 designated bathing areas that it monitors achieved 'Excellent' status. This achievement is notable in light of the considerable disruption caused to many locations during the storms of early 2014, as well as the newly introduced standards for assessing bathing areas which are almost twice as strict as those previously applied. Our goal now is to maintain these high standards throughout 2015," explained Paul Moroney Senior Engineer, Clare County Council:

Commenting on the bathing water quality results, Dr Matthew Crowe, Director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Assessment, said: "Overall, the quality of Ireland's bathing waters continues to be very good and new standards introduced in 2014 provide a much higher level of protection for bathers."

"Disappointingly, seven identified bathing waters have been assessed as being of poor quality. The relevant local authorities and Irish Water have put management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches. The test will be whether or not we see the necessary improvements in water quality at these beaches," added Dr. Crowe.

The summary report 'Bathing Water Quality in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2014' is available to download from www.epa.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

#BathingBan - Following the news of swimming bans at Killiney and Sandycove Harbour, The Irish Times reports on similar advisories on more beaches on the east coast coming after last weekend's heavy rain.

Elevated bacteria levels have been detected this week at Bettystown in Co Meath, Clogherhead and Templetown in Co Louth, Dollymount Strand on Bull Island, Howth's Claremont Beach and Loughshinny Beach between Rush and Skerries.

All locations have been retested with results awaited within the next few days. Contamination from floodwaters is suspected to be the most probable cause.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#watersafety – The CEO of Irish Water Safety, John leech is urging the public to use the Local Authority manned lifeguarded bathing places to ensure there are no more swimming tragedies this summer.

Please take heed of advice given by the lifeguards and supervise your children, as lifeguards are not baby sitters.

Lifeguards rescued 413 casualties from our beaches, rivers and lakes during the month of July, that is 146 less than for last July during that memorable heat wave.

There were 353 lost children reunited with their parents.

There were another 8,442 accidents prevented by the proactive actions of our lifeguards.

The CEO is also warning the public that due to the high temperatures in our waters, the prevailing westerly winds and Atlantic current, potentially dangerous jellyfish are appearing on our beaches.

Portuguese man o 'war jelly fish have been reported on Bunmahon and Clonea strand in Waterford, whilst barrel jellyfish have been reported on beaches in Cork.

County

Rescue

Rescued from Craft

First Aid

Lost Child

Advice Given

Accident prevented

Other

Carlow

0

0

95

0

455

157

47

Cork

20

1

155

12

2,927

1,308

5

Clare

24

40

524

29

6,247

1,669

164

Donegal

4

1

202

3

1977

576

0

Dublin

3

4

154

3

972

104

31

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

11

1

60

0

180

30

0

Fingal

14

12

199

29

3,113

426

19

Galway

7

10

49

4

443

61

148

Kerry

77

73

579

76

1,574

504

188

Kilkenny

3

0

14

0

151

3

12

Limerick Co.

0

23

19

1

81

36

0

Louth

0

2

43

3

594

69

50

Mayo

7

3

116

6

6,395

1,784

0

Meath

0

0

6

0

17

13

4

Roscommon

0

0

47

0

245

15

0

Sligo

0

0

25

7

48

35

21

Tipperary

1

0

32

0

17

13

4

Waterford

13

5

154

63

2,239

775

213

Wexford

4

0

187

24

678

45

878

Wicklow

4

46

781

97

77,500

819

88,191

Total

192

221

3441

357

105853

8442

89975

             
Published in Water Safety

#CoastalNotes - The vast majority of Irish beaches are fit for bathing, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But as The Irish Times reports, any bathing spots that fail to meet the EU's minimum requirements in future will be closed for an entire season.

Of the 135 bathing places assessed by the EPA over the past 12 months, just four were rated as 'poor' quality.

Two of these were in Co Galway - Ballyloughane in Galway city, which experienced two pollution incidents; and Clifden, which "continues to be subject to episodic pollution" after it was identified among 40 towns nationwide still discharging raw sewage, though work is ongoing to upgrade the local treatment plant.

Some 114 bathing spots were rated 'good', and would have been rated higher if not for low but persistent bacterial levels in some East Coast waters.

Nationwide, the EPA's verdict is that better wastewater management practices have resulted in improving standards, maintaining Ireland's position as "one of the best countries in northern Europe" for water quality.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#FORTY FOOT - The Irish Times reports that a men-only bathing club at the famous Forty Foot swimming spot in Sandycove, south Dublin, has voted against a proposal to allow women members.

While the area is open for all - and has allowed both sexes for more than 25 years - the adjacent clubhouse and changing hut are owned by the Sandycove Bathers' Association, founded in the late 19th century.

The Dublin Bay club does not grant full membership to women, though many do contribute an annual maintenance fee.

At a meeting on Thursday to discuss the proposed motion - rejected by a vote of 24 to 17 - one unnamed member described what he perceived as "an underlying tone of misogyny".

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Forty Foot Swimming

#COASTAL NOTES - The bathing ban imposed last week on seven Cork coastal beaches has been lifted, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the seven beaches had been closed to swimming over concerns at elevated E.coli levels in the water, resulting from water runoff after the recent heavy rainfall in the county.

Cork County Council took the decision to lift restrictions after tests this week showed E.coli levels had "significantly descreaed" below the EU mandatory safety level.

The seven affected beaches included three in the Youghal area. Redbarn at Youghal joins Garretsown near Kinsale and Garryvoe in the beaches that can fly their Blue Flags once more.

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTAL NOTES - Cork County Council has announced it will be at least two more days before it knows if its bathing ban at seven beaches can be lifted, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the seven coastal beaches - including blue flag strands at Garretstown, Redbarn and Garryvoe - have been closed to swimming over concerns at elevated E.coli levels in the water, resuling from water runoff after the recent heavy rainfall in the county.

Notices were first posted by the council last Friday, and the latest water samples were collected at the affected beaches yesterday.

Youghal is the worst affected by the outbreak, with three beaches closed.

Meanwhile, a popular east coast beach has been reopened after a similar E.coli scare.

The Irish Independent reports that Rush South in north Co Dublin was closed to bathers after bacterial contamination was detected over the August bank holiday weekend.

Levels of E.coli recorded in the water were at 2,143, above the EU mandatory level of 2,000, but samples taken since have been given the all-clear.

A spokesperson for Fingal County Council described it as "a once-off pollution incident that will not have any ongoing impact on bathing at Rush South".

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTAL NOTES - Some of Cork's most popular beaches have been closed to bathers over concerns at elevated levels of E.coli in the water.

According to The Irish Times, the bathing ban affects the blue flag beaches at Garretstown near Kinsale, Redbarn at Youghal and Garryvoe, while other beaches affected include Coolmaine near Kilbittain, Oysterhaven and two other stretches in Youghal.

Water runoff from the heavy rainfall experienced in the county earlier in the summer has been blamed for the increase of the dangerous bacteria above mandatory EU safety levels.

This is similar to that which caused the closure of bathing and surfing spots on the Clare coast last month, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The Irish Examiner explains that E.coli is commonly found in slurry, much of which has been washed from farms into the sea as a result of the record rains of recent weeks.

The situation has been compounded by southerly winds which have prevented the dispersal of the polluted water from the coastline.

Cork County Council has contacted the HSE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and will carry out further inspections of water quality tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Cork County Mayor and Youghal Councillor Barbara Murray has called for improvements to the water sampling process.

“You don’t just do this on a Monday and decide you are not going to do it again until the following Monday," she said. “So I would be suggesting that it would be done on a more regular basis and that the results be brought in as soon as possible."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#WEATHER - Those hardy Yuletide bathers at the Forty Foot in Dublin didn't need to be so brave this year, as Ireland experienced one of the warmest Christmas Days on record.

Just one year ago Ireland was in the grip of a deep freeze. But as the Irish Independent reports, temperatures on Sunday last rose to as much as 14.4 degrees in Co Cork.

It's been almost a decade since late December temperatures reached such levels, when Christmas in 2002 saw highs of 14.6 degrees according to Met Éireann records.

Sunny spells on the east coast brought out the polar bear plungers to Sandymount and the Grand Canal as well as the famous Forty Foot bathing spot in Sandycove.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Forty Foot Swimming
Page 1 of 2

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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