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Displaying items by tag: 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 advises the following reopening of facilities will occur on Thursday 03 December 2020.

Navigational Use

  • Shannon Navigation - Locks and Bridges will be open on Winter Hours. Times are available on the Waterways Ireland website. There continues to be no charge for Lock passage.
  • Shannon Navigation - Vessels can avail of the Winter Moorings facility by applying online.
  • Shannon Erne Waterway - Locks will be open, operating Hours - 09:00hrs to 16:00hrs daily.
  • Shannon Navigation & Shannon- Erne Waterway - Waterways Ireland service blocks will re-open (only those that operate all year round)
  • Grand Canal / Royal Canal / Barrow Line & Navigation – Normal winter arrangements will apply.

General Navigation Guidelines

Navigation remains open within your home county until 18 December. From 18th Dec to 6th Jan 2021 the navigation is open outside of your home county.

When on jetties please be aware of other users. Wait or move aside to allow others to pass at a safe distance.

Observe social distancing protocols - keep a distance of at least 2m (6 feet) away from other people;

Be mindful of others and act always with consideration and with respect and observe the leave no trace principles and protect our environment;

Observe all health etiquettes when on the towpaths.

In all instances, social distancing must be maintained keeping your distance from both other people and moored boats. Please refer to your relevant representative body for guidance on the most appropriate health and safety precautions and advice.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland has cancelled its Council Meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 7th.

IWAI President Alan Kelly has advised that due to the increased risk posed by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and that cases of Coronavirus have now been
confirmed North, South, East and West it has been decided to cancel the IWAI Council meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 7th.

The IWAI says it is keeping the situation 'under review' and a decision made about the AGM (scheduled for April 25) at a later date.

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A historic railway bridge in south west Wexford, reports New Ross Standard, has raised concern in that the structure which has been out of use for a decade is being left to rot and could eventually fall into the river.

Former Labour county councillor Denis North, who worked for CIE for 45 years, including 13 years operating the bridge, said the central span may fall into the River Barrow in years to come if it isn't maintained and returned to use.

Irish Rail CEO Jim Meade informed Mr North in May that there is no proposal to close the Barrow Bridge.

'The Barrow Bridge operating equipment is very old and requires significant resources to maintain and operate,' Mr Meade wrote.

He said: 'While the railway line is suspended, the focus of operation has been to support the Port of New Ross shipping operations in line with our statutory responsibility for the bridge operation.'

He said: 'In order to ensure the consistent delivery of the required shipping lane access for the Port of New Ross, we have reviewed the operation with the Port of New Ross Chief Executive and our Chief Civil engineer and propose to temporarily secure the bridge in the open position for shipping traffic, to improve the navigation controls and lighting on the bridge to a required standard and to allow the remote monitoring of bridge operations. The effect of this proposed change will ensure the reliability of the operation for maritime navigation and reduce our operations and infrastructure costs in the meantime.'

For more on the story click this link. 

Published in Irish Ports

A new clean-up initiative which involves volunteers kayaking down the river Liffey to pick up rubbish has been launched.

GreenKayak, a Danish non-governmental organisation founded in 2017 by Tobias Weber-Andersen, reports The Irish Times, operates a free service where volunteers sign up to kayak along the river in exchange for picking up litter.

The initiative launched its first Irish venture, in partnership with Dublin’s City Kayaking, on Tuesday. It aims to collect plastic from the river Liffey before it reaches the Irish Sea.

Each kayak is fitted with a bin and tools for grabbing plastic bobbing on the water’s surface. Each bin is weighed after docking, and the waste is recycled.

Volunteers must then share their experience on social media to promote the initiative, see related link.

Click here to read more on the background of this initiative

Published in Kayaking

#irishports - New Ross Port is to be transferred to Wexford County Council within the coming months and will lead to great opportunities for the development of the quays area of the town.

As NewRoss Standard writes, this is the view of director of services for economic development with Wexford County Council, Tony Larkin who addressed the monthly meeting of New Ross Municipal District.

Mr Larkin said the 'bottom tier' ports in Ireland are being transferred to local authorities.

'It's New Ross' turn. We have been in negotiations with the Department of Transport for two years. We've been doing due diligence on the port company and I compliment the work of the port company.'

He said the company is being disbanded and will merge into the council.

Mr Larkin said the transfer could occur as soon as May or June, and would have already taken place if not for some cost issues involving the removal of the oil tanks on the quay and the cost of draining the Barrow.

For the transfer to take place three ministers have to sign the transfer letter.

For further reading on this development at the inland port click here.

Published in Irish Ports

The winter mooring period ends on Sunday 31 Mar 2019. Thereafter Navigation Bye-law No. 17(3) applies i.e. vessels should not berth in the same harbour for longer than the statutory period of 5 consecutive days nor more than a total of 7 days in any one month.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The winter mooring period has begun and with it a number of changes to the operation of Waterways Ireland’s moorings.

Winter mooring is available on Waterways Ireland moorings on the River Shannon for the 5 month period 1 November – 31 March for a fee of €63.50. For 2018-2019 bookings visit here

From the 7th November electricity and water to Waterways Ireland jetties, harbours and marinas will be turned off to reduce damage from winter weather including storms and freezing conditions. A Marina Notice will issue when both services are re-connected in 2019.

Over the winter Waterways Ireland advises boat owners to take additional precautions if visiting their vessels during any stormy weather and heavy rainfall. Slippery conditions and strong winds are a hazard when walking on floating pontoons and when moving boats. Certainly boat owners should consider wearing full personal protective equipment if it is deemed necessary to visit a vessel during stormy weather.

Boaters should also note the closure of Albert Lock and Athlone Lock for 6 weeks from the 5th and 12th November respectively for essential maintenance works and passage through the locks will not be possible during this time.

Waterways Ireland will continue to issue Marine Notices throughout the winter period to advise boaters of changes to navigation conditions. Marine Notices are published on the Waterways Ireland website.

Published in Inland Waterways

Afloat.ie reader, Chris, is trying to find out what the rules and limitations are for jet boating on Irish rivers. In particular, he was curious to know if there are any regulations governing speed limits. 

A jetboat is a boat propelled by a jet of water ejected from the back of the craft. Unlike a powerboat or motorboat that uses an external propeller in the water below or behind the boat, a jetboat draws the water from under the boat through an intake and into a pump-jet inside the boat, before expelling it through a nozzle at the stern. 

Jetboats were originally designed by Sir William Hamilton (who developed a waterjet in 1954) for operation in the fast-flowing and shallow rivers of New Zealand, specifically to overcome the problem of propellers striking rocks in such waters.

We passed Chris's query to Waterways Ireland, the body responsibile for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes.

WI responded as follows: 

'Waterways Ireland actively encourages the use of Ireland's waterways for all types of activities including jet-boating. In this context the rivers and lakes under the remit of Waterways Ireland are available for jet-boating with some public safety restrictions to be respected.

There is a 5 knot speed limit in place in the vicinity of all marinas and harbours. We encourage a no wake policy in the vicinity of moorings, jetties and swimming areas. We have received occasional complaints from other boat users regarding excessive speed by jet skis and powerboats in the vicinity of marinas etc, consideration for other water users is encouraged.  

'Lough Derg between Portumna and Terryglass is an area that is used for water-ski training and would be ideal for jet-boating'

The Lower Bann river between Lough Neagh and Coleraine has zones used primarily for powered water sports and could be an ideal jet-boating location.  Lough Derg between Portumna and Terryglass is an area that is used for water-ski training and would be ideal for jet-boating.

There are Waterway Ireland offices in various locations along the lakes and river network who can advise further on local matters when you are on the waterway'.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Could The Heritage Bill destroy the Navigations it should be protecting? That's the view of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI).

In a long running campaign, the IWAI has received strong political support for its view that this proposed legislation must put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations. 

The Heritage Bill 2016 is currently before the Dáil. With several Amendments still to be considered by the Oireachtas, The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is hopeful that the final shape of the Bill has the potential to unlock a bright future for the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation that will put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations.

Could The Heritage Bill destroy the Navigations it should be protecting?

The Bill is scheduled for debate by the Select Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht this Wednesday afternoon. Once again there is strong political support for the IWAI view but concerns remain with the proposed legislation, this is reflected by the number of Amendments on the table for discussion on Wednesday.

The main areas of concern relate to

• new complicated legal licensing, - rather than the need to legislate for a simple permitting system that is customer friendly, easy to use, and fit for purpose
• Adequate provisions - so that boats of dimensions for which the canals were built to accommodate are protected and can continue to do so into the future
• proposed provision and powers of Authorised Officers
• legislation that will facilitate the introduction of a complete different set of rules and regulations that are not in place on the adjoining Waterways, and will make these canals less attractive to potential boating tourism

Ireland’s Canals as beautiful linear waterways have the potential to attract both domestic and International boating visitors who will relish the tranquil opportunity of slow tourism cruising at walking pace as people move faster than the canal boats on the system, while experiencing the associated industrial heritage, peat lands, small villages and towns that have interdependence with the canals and our capital city.

To achieve this potential it is vital that the Heritage Bill 2016 preserves and enables the development of the canals for the current and future generations and communities. Over regulation and excessive charges are not the answer to developing these waterways; they deserve proper legislation that put user requirements, local communities and tourism at the centre of the regulations.

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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