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Displaying items by tag: litter

Discarded plastic is the predominant form of litter on Northern Ireland’s beaches, according to a new survey by a local environmental group.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the survey by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful estimates that plastic — most of it single-use, such as bottles or food wrappers — accounts for nearly four-fifths of more than three million items of rubbish on NI beaches at any one time.

The figure is projected from on-site surveys in 2019 which recorded an average of more than 500 pieces of litter per 100 metres of beach.

KNIB Plastic Around Coast

Commenting on the survey, NI Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “The figures reveal the stark reality of litter on our beaches, with over 22,000 pieces of litter collected across 11 beaches, with 78% of this made from single-use plastic.”

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

#Litter - Only 8% of beaches, harbours and rivers in Ireland can be considered clean, according to the first national survey on littering at waterside spots.

An Taisce investigated 50 sites nationwide on behalf of the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) group and found that just four – Salthill in Galway, Kinsale Harbour in Co Cork, Lanesborough and Carrick-on-Shannon – were clean when measured against EU standards.

Outsider.ie has the full survey results, which point at Cork Harbour and the Wild Atlantic Way as among the biggest offenders for litter blight around the coast.

“We know the success of the Wild Atlantic Way is placing strains on infrastructure of various kinds,” said IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan. “Litter is a likely consequence of this and one local authorities need to manage to ensure the appeal of the way is sustained.”

Among inland waterways, the Boyne in Drogheda, the Shannon at Portumna, the Suir in Waterford city and the Tolka at Annesley Bridge were considered “heavily littered” — mostly by plastic bottles and drinks cans, cigarette butts and plastic sweet wrappers.

In an editorial earlier this week, The Irish Times warned over “the permanent damage being caused to the marine environment in the form of plastic pollution”.

The issue is one that many campaigners around the country are attempting to tackle – including young Flossie Donnelly and her clean-up efforts in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It’s also considered a threat to Ireland’s angling resource. “Our waterways and the fish which they sustain are one of our great natural assets,” said Suzanne Campion, head of business development at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

“Ireland has a reputation as an outstanding angling destination however this is reliant on our ‘green’ image. We are disappointed to learn that angling destinations such as the Boyne, Shannon, Suir and Tolka feature on the ‘heavily littered’ list.”

IFI promotes a ‘leave no trace’ ethos with anglers and all water users, and Campion appealed to the public “to refrain from littering in or around our waterways”.

Campion added: “If we are to ensure the sustainability of the resource in the long term and to safeguard Ireland’s enduring appeal within the world of angling then we each need to quickly remedy this litter issue.”

As previously noted on Afloat.ie, Doolin ferry operator Eugene Garrihy hit out at the IBAL’s claims that the Clare town is a “litter blackspot”.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#InlandWaterways - The Belfast Telegraph reports on the annual clean-up of the Glendarragh River in Co Fermanagh by local anglers determined to preserve the quality and natural beauty of their inland waterways resource.

The Kesh and District Angling Club's yearly Big Spring Clean anti-litter drives sees anglers and other volunteers boat along the watercourse to remove as much rubbish and discarded debris as they can find.

As the only waterway in the area where cruisers - many carrying tourists - can travel upstream from Lough Erne, the ugly sight of built-up litter reflects badly on the Fermanagh lakelands, according to club chair Stephen Hey.

"Over the years the water quality has been getting better, but from an aesthetic point of view it's terribly sad to come up the river on a boat and see a rubbish tip." he said, adding that suspected fly-tipping is the cause of much of the waste.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Stormont's environment minister has called for a marine litter strategy in Northern Ireland.
UTV News reports that Alex Attwood joined thousands of volunteers taking part in a morning cleanup on the shores of Belfast Lough for the Marine Conservation Society's Beachwatch Big Weekend.
The minister said he has demanded that his department implement a marine litter strategy to deal waste washing in from the sea.
"Our coast is a great asset and we must keep it in good order," he said. "Marine litter is widespread and the problem can only be tackled at the source.
"I am amazed at the variety of plastic debris and packaging that we have found."
Beachwatch Big Weekend took place across the UK as part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup.

Stormont's environment minister has called for a marine litter strategy in Northern Ireland. 

UTV News reports that Alex Attwood joined thousands of volunteers taking part in a morning cleanup on the shores of Belfast Lough for the Marine Conservation Society's Beachwatch Big Weekend.

The minister said he has demanded that his department implement a marine litter strategy to deal waste washing in from the sea.

"Our coast is a great asset and we must keep it in good order," he said. "Marine litter is widespread and the problem can only be tackled at the source. 

"I am amazed at the variety of plastic debris and packaging that we have found."

Beachwatch Big Weekend took place across the UK as part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup.

Published in Belfast Lough

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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