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Just 34 breeding pairs of curlew were confirmed in the fifth year of the Curlew Conservation Programme, according to figures in its 2021 report.

And of that number — recorded across nine important breeding areas — only nine pairs were confirmed to have produced fledglings, a breeding success rate of just 26%.

While the breeding productivity rate of 0.50 fledglings/breeding pair is above the threshold of 0.43 required for a stable population, it continues a significant trend of decline since 2019 when the rate was 0.81.

The figures have prompted an online petition to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan amid fears that the Irish breeding curlew “is headed to extinction” due to human activity.

It calls on the minister and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to take action on a number of points, including an immediate increase in funding for curlew conservation, and establishing an integrated stakeholder emergency taskforce” led by the current conservation programme.

It also appeals for allocating former Bord na Mona peatlands as priority habitats for curlews, and initiating a review of commercial forestry licensing “where the habitat is favourable to ground-nesting birds”.

“If these actions are not taken, the Irish curlew will be lost within the next decade,” the petition organisers say. “This will be a preventable tragedy we can not stand idly by and let happen.”

The wading birds are winter visitors to Ireland’s inland and coastal wetlands, but also breed in inland floodplains and bogland, in rough pastures, meadows and heather.

However, according to Birdwatch Ireland their numbers and range “have declined substantially in recent decades. It is likely that increased afforestation and agricultural improvement are responsible for these declines.”

Curlew in Ireland are red-listed as a threatened species.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A plan to store fracked gas in Cork could be illegal a Cork TD has claimed.

It comes as more than 2,000 signatures writes EchoLive.ie, have been gathered on an online petition opposing the potential Cork Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal.

If it goes ahead, fracked gas from the United States would be imported into Cork harbour.

In 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Port of Cork with US company NextDecade as Afloat previously reported..

It could see an LNG terminal built, using a floating storage and regasification unit.

An online petition was created by the group ‘Not Here Not Anywhere’ who are a grassroots campaign against drilling for oil and gas off the Irish coasts and the development of any new fossil fuel infrastructure in Ireland.

For more click here 

Published in Cork Harbour

A former Fine Gael candidate Julie O’Leary has started a petition in favour of high-rise, high-density development in the docklands.

The petition, reports EchoLive, was signed by close to 400 people in its first few hours online, comes after a flurry of planning applications for tower complexes in the docklands area.

Though the scale and design of the planned towers have been controversial, Ms O’Leary said that developments like these are key for Cork to grow.

“The key to unlocking Cork’s potential is building high density and high rise development in and near the city centre,” she said.

“The Docklands and Tivoli will be key areas for this type of development, but we need to look at all our options within a reasonable distance of the city centre.”

She said that high-density developments would lead to less traffic, greater availability of housing, better public transport, and less urban sprawl.

For further reading on this development click here. 

Published in Waterfront Property

#FerryNews - The animal rights Group Compassion in World Farming Ireland is to target key ferry operators in their latest bid to halt live exports.

The group writes Independent.ie is to target Niclas Martensson CEO of Stena Line and Eamonn Rothwell CEO of Irish Ferries Limited with a petition signed by 4,000 people.

In the petition the Group call on Stena Line and Irish Ferries to stop what they describe as ‘profiting from this inhumane industry’ by allowing their ferries to carry young calves and cattle destined for fattening and slaughter on the continent.

The live export trade is generally seen in the farming community as vital in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers.

Indeed the Minister for Agriculture, Michael has said the ongoing search for new third country markets is a priority for his Department, particularly in the context of Brexit.

The Minister has said that his Department attaches the highest significance to animal welfare in the context of the live export trade.

To read comments by the Minister click here in addition Stena RoRo's operated Stena Carrier which earlier this year carried calves to the continent

Published in Ferry

#LobsterPots - Are lobster pots a danger to yachts? That’s the question posed by Yachting Monthly as the UK’s Cruising Association relaunches its campaign to make static-gear fishing safer for small vessels.

The CA has already received nearly 4,000 signatures on its online petition to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to seek “views regarding forceable regulation among other options” for improving the way static fishing gear is marked.

Before its original petition was shut down until after this summer’s UK general election, nearly 6,000 people had signalled their support for the initiative which also has the backing of CA patron and yachting legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

The RYA has additionally launched an online reporting form for boaters to identify incidents of entanglement with poorly marked static fishing gear.

“We think it is time for everybody with an interest to work together to find a solution, particularly one that is cheap and practical for our fishermen,” said a CA spokesperson.

Yachting Monthly has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#DALKEY ISLAND PROSPECT - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has joined the chorus of opposition to the proposed oil and gas exploration off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Providence Resources has applied for a foreshore licence to search for oil or gas about 6km out to sea on the Kish Bank Basin.

But the prospect has provoked a split in the local community over the potential risks and benefits, with many calling for a public enquiry into the licence before it is granted.

This evening an urgent meeting in Dun Laoghaire will address the public's concerns, which have been echoed by the IWDG.

"The Kish Bank and adjacent waters are important for cetaceans," said the group in a statement. "In addition, sightings of bottlenose dolphins have increased dramatically in the area following the presence of a group of three individuals since August 2010."

The IWDG is concerned about the potential effects on dolphins and porpoises that "could due to noise generated from the drilling process", noting that "there is little published data on the intensity and effects of sound generated by drilling".

Protest group Protect Our Coast has launched a online petition against the Dalkey Island Prospect citing concerns over the proximity of the drilling area to the mainland as well as the Special Protection Area of Dalkey Island, which is a haven for marine wildlife.

Published in Coastal Notes
A campaigner on Twitter is encouraging supporters to sign an online petition against the closure of coastguard stations across the UK.
So far almost 7,000 signatures have been added to the petition started by Twitter user @Coastguard_SOS in protest at the UK government's plans to streamline the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's nationwide network of rescue centres from 19 to 11.
As previously reportd on Afloat.ie, campaigners in Scotland have made a desperate plea to save the Clyde station from closure in a public consultation.
Northern Ireland's rescue command centre at Bangor on Belfast Lough is among those saved from the chop following a review of reform proposals this past summer.
But concerns remain that resources will be stretched too thin if fewer stations are responsible for broader areas.
"The revised proposals are also unacceptable not least on the basis that vital local knowledge will continue be lost and therefore lives will continue to be out at risk on our coastlines," the petition warns.

A campaigner on Twitter is encouraging supporters to sign an online petition against the closure of coastguard stations across the UK.

So far almost 7,000 signatures have been added to the petition started by Twitter user @Coastguard_SOS in protest at the UK government's plans to streamline the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's nationwide network of rescue centres from 19 to 11.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners in Scotland have made a desperate plea to save the Clyde station from closure in a public consultation.

Northern Ireland's rescue command centre at Bangor on Belfast Lough is among those saved from the chop following a review of reform proposals this past summer. 

But concerns remain that resources will be stretched too thin if fewer stations are responsible for broader areas.

"The revised proposals are also unacceptable not least on the basis that vital local knowledge will continue be lost and therefore lives will continue to be out at risk on our coastlines," the petition warns.

Published in Coastguard
The Government has three months to start cleaning the toxic waste site in Haulbowline or risk court action by the European Commission, the Irish Examiner reports.
The site at the former Irish Steel plant contains an estimated 500,000 tonnes of waste, including toxic heavy metals and cancer causing materials, and has been blamed for the area's notoriety in having one of the highest cancer rates in Ireland.
Two petitions from local groups totalling 5,500 signatures were presented to the European Parliament's petitions committee in Brussels on Wednesday, according to The Irish Times.
Mary O'Leary, chair of the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase), outlined to the committe that in spite of four reports between 1998 and 2005 highlighting the dangers of contamination from the site, the Irish State has failed to regulate it or take clean-up action.
Petitions committee member Jean-Francoise Brakland said he "fully agreed" with locals' concerns over the "dangerous mess".
He also commended Environment Minister Phil Hogan for understanding "the difficulties and the challenges of environmental implementation" but cautioned that "we are not going to wait for the next 10 years."
Brakland promised that if no real action was taken on Haulbowline after three months, the commitee would seek a court judgement againt the State.
The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

The Government has three months to start cleaning the toxic waste site in Haulbowline or risk court action by the European Commission, the Irish Examiner reports.

The site at the former Irish Steel plant contains an estimated 500,000 tonnes of waste, including toxic heavy metals and cancer causing materials, and has been blamed for the area's notoriety in having one of the highest cancer rates in Ireland.

Two petitions from local groups totalling 5,500 signatures were presented to the European Parliament's petitions committee in Brussels on Wednesday, according to The Irish Times.

Mary O'Leary, chair of the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase), outlined to the committe that in spite of four reports between 1998 and 2005 highlighting the dangers of contamination from the site, the Irish State has failed to regulate it or take clean-up action.

Petitions committee member Jean-Francoise Brakland said he "fully agreed" with locals' concerns over the "dangerous mess". 

He also commended Environment Minister Phil Hogan for understanding "the difficulties and the challenges of environmental implementation" but cautioned that "we are not going to wait for the next 10 years".

Brakland promised that if no real action was taken on Haulbowline after three months, the commitee would seek a court judgement againt the State.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour

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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