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#Angling - Following the announcement of an €800,000 stimulus package for economic development on Ireland’s waterways, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has released details of Leitrim’s share to develop angling in Ballinamore.

An award of €100,000 from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs under the REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zone) Initiative will go to improving access to angling in Ballinamore with a view to developing tourism in the Lakelands region, as proposed by Leitrim County Council with support from IFI.

The project involves the development of angling infrastructure at Garadice and Kiltybarden Lakes, venues noted for match angling and currently annual hosts of the World Pairs Angling Championships. The €100,000 grant will upgrade the facilities at these locations to draw other national and international competitions to the area.

The angling facility will also be accessible to wheelchair users and will have a special area dedicated to youth angling.

In total the project will cost around €125,000, with the rest of the funding provided by IFI (€21,200) and Leitrim County Council (€3,800).

Frank Curran, chief executive of Leitrim County Council, said: “We are delighted with the approval of the funding for the Rural Economic Development Zone for Ballinamore and Carrigallen area which is focusing on the angling sector.

“Angling is an extremely important economic driver for this area made possible by the excellent fishing lakes in the locality along with a well-known, international reputation. Ballinamore/Carrigallen has been host to numerous angling competitions such as the World Pairs and the Dutch King of Clubs.

“Leitrim County Council looks forward to working with the local trade and Inland Fisheries Ireland in the delivery of this project in the coming months.”

IFI head of business development Suzanne Campion added: “Our fisheries resource is precious from a recreational and economic viewpoint. We are committed to ensuring that Ireland uses the resource to its best potential in a conservation focused manner and we are delighted to secure this funding for Leitrim.

“Anglers already enjoy the great fishing and beautiful scenery available at Ballinamore and this facility will make access to angling easier and allow the area to cater for several large and international angling competitions.

“Investment in angling development is crucial if we are to help attract visitors to rural areas. We know that angling visitors spend considerable time in an area when they identify with it as an angling destination. Anglers use several services and business in an area when visiting such as accommodation, restaurants, shops as well as boat hire and equipment rental.

“We look forward to working with our partners, Leitrim County Council and the community, in enhancing Ballinamore as a top angling destination.”

The Ballinamore project will form part of IFI’s National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD), a comprehensive national framework for the development of Ireland’s angling resource.

The strategy aims to deliver a wide-ranging set of investments, innovations and promotions over the coming five years, to ensure that Ireland’s fish stocks and angling infrastructure are protected and enhanced for both their economic value and recreational benefit to the communities and visitors they serve across Ireland.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Poaching is a direct threat to efforts to revive salmon and trout angling and associated tourism in Connemara, a local business has warned.

Brian Curran of Lough Corrib-based Ireland West Angling told the Connacht Tribune that poachers are doing “untold damage to rehabilitation efforts” in Spiddal and environs, following a recent conviction of a local man for unlawful netting on the Boluisce River.

Such illegal practices disturb the painstaking work of Inland Fisheries Ireland staff and local registered fisheries to clear obstructions and place spawning gravel to aid fish in their migration.

The story comes weeks after Northern Irish anglers expressed their own concerns over poaching and pollution in the Carlingford and Lough Foyle areas, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

#Diving - A new commercial catamaran is part of a Portstewart-based diving firm’s efforts to compete with popular dive tourism destinations abroad, as the News Letter reports.

Diving is ‘big business’ for the Aquaholics Dive Centre, which provides services for big-name film and TV productions such as Game of Thrones alongside its training, sea safari and diving holiday offerings.

And it’s the tourism that such visibility brings to Northern Ireland that the company aims to capture, with its new boat just the ticket to explore more of the Causeway Coast’s impressive diving sites.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving

#SkelligRing - The Skellig Ring in Co Kerry features in Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for globetrotters to explore on 2017.

“Ireland’s most charismatically wild and emerald stretch of coastline,” as the popular travel guide’s Best in Travel report puts it, rounds out a list that includes such breathtaking destinations as French Polynesia, Chilean Patagonia, mountainous New Zealand and the Azores.

And unsurprisingly, the biggest draw to this corner of the Wild Atlantic Way is the majestic Skellig Michael, set for another bumper tourism year in 2017 on the back of its inclusion in the new Star Wars movie series.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#Tourism - Lough Neagh joins an exclusive list of 100 ‘sustainable destinations’ after its success in a global tourism competition this week.

As the News Letter reports, the largest inland waterway in the island of Ireland was put forward for evaluation by the Green Destinations Top 100 team, which narrowed down 150 nominees around the world to those taking sustainability most seriously for locals and tourists alike.

Eimear Kearney of the Lough Neagh Partnership was on hand to accept the prestigious designation at the Global Sustainability Competition in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“For Lough Neagh to be named among the 100 greenest of destinations worldwide is a real achievement,” she said.

The partnership has recently launched a new scheme to improve habitats for protected bird species around the lough, according to BBC News.

The good news for Lough Neagh comes in the same week that a number of maritime tourism operators were featured at the 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Maritime tourism operators featured at the 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards announced at a ceremony yesterday in Dublin.

In the best for Natural Heritage Tourism category, a silver award went to Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre (Co. Kerry). The marine interpretive centre located in the heart of the coastal village Waterville displays interactive displays on Ireland's marine life, such as turtles, sharks, swordfish, bones from whales and dolphins.

In the best Innovation in Responsible Tourism, the Great Lighthouses of Ireland was another Silver award winner. The tourism initiative, is a new all-island tourism initiative, developed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and features twelve lighthouses in breathtaking coastal locations. The project offers visitors from home and abroad the chance to visit or stay in a lighthouse, to find out about their history, to appreciate the spectacular natural world around them.

The awards are a response to demand from the Irish trade for a new type of awards showcasing the best in Irish responsible tourism. The 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards aim to inspire replication, to excite media interest, to encourage competition and celebration from across the tourism industry on the island of Ireland.

The Irish Responsible Tourism Awards are part of a growing family of worldwide responsible tourism awards which are all linked to the World Responsible Tourism Awards, founded by responsibletravel.com. Winners of each of the categories will be longlisted for the World Responsible Tourism Awards - a great opportunity for the Irish trade to raise international awareness.

The shortlist for the awards, which attracted entries from almost every county in Ireland, was announced in early September following assessment by a panel of industry experts chaired by international responsible tourism expert Professor Harold Goodwin. The award categories and the winners of the Silver & Gold awards are:

Best for Natural Heritage Tourism
· GOLD: Doolin Cave (Co. Clare)

· SILVER: Burren Nature Sanctuary (Co. Galway)

· SILVER: Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre (Co. Kerry)

Best for Accessible & Inclusive Tourism
· GOLD: Gleneagle Hotel Group (Co. Kerry)

· SILVER: Mobility Mojo

Best Local Authority Initiative for Responsible Tourism
· GOLD: Lough Muckno - Monaghan County Council

· SILVER: Westport Smarter Travel Bike Buffet - Mayo County Council

Best Tourism Accommodation for Local Sourcing
· GOLD (joint): Sea View House (Co. Clare) and Fuchsia Lane Farm Holiday Cottages (Co. Tipperary)

· SILVER: Hotel Doolin (Co. Clare)

Best Destination for Responsible Tourism
· GOLD: Mulranny (Co. Mayo)

· SILVER: Inishbofin Island (Co. Galway)

· SILVER: Sheep’s Head Way (Co. Cork)

Best Innovation in Responsible Tourism
· GOLD: The Blackfriary Community Heritage and Archaeology Project (Co. Meath)

· SILVER: Great Lighthouses of Ireland

Overall Winner: Mulranny (Co. Mayo)

Judges for the awards include:

Catherine Mack (responsibletravel.com)
Kevin Griffin (DIT tourism lecturer and former-EDEN awards judge)
Paddy Mathews (Fáilte Ireland)
Annabel Fitzgerald (Irish Water & formerly Coastal Programmes Manager An Taisce)
Mark Henry (Central Marketing Director, Tourism Ireland)
Cyril McAree (Managing Director, Hotel & Restaurant Times)

Fáilte Ireland’s Head Investment & Innovation, Paddy Matthews said, “A more environmentally conscious and community-centred approach to developing tourism in Ireland is becoming more and more mainstream... and so it should. It results in more genuine and authentic experiences for all our visitors.”

The awards took place at the 3nd Irish Responsible Tourism Conference organised by the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism. The Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism was established in 2013 to promote responsible tourism on the island of Ireland

Published in Aquatic Tourism
Tagged under

#SkelligMichael - The Department of Heritage has approved a film shoot by drone at Skellig Michael, despite the use of drones being prohibited on the island.

According to The Irish Times, a guide on the Unesco world heritage site has raised concerns that permission for the Fáilte Ireland shoot would make a general ban on the use of drone aircraft by visitors difficult to enforce.

“How can we instruct the public not to fly drones if it will be clear that a tourism body has been permitted to do this extensively?” said the guide, who claimed anonymity.

Previously, an experienced guide spoke out over the controversial Star Wars shoots on the island last year.

The filming for box office hit The Force Awakens and next year’s Episode VIII attracted worldwide attention to the Co Kerry islands, which have since been promoted as a tourism attraction for Star Wars fans by Fáilte Ireland.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#CliffsOfMoher - As much as €20,000 in cash is believed to have been taken in a sophisticated burglary at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre yesterday morning (Monday 3 October).

According to The Irish Times, the building’s security system was disabled after the daring thieves cut its electricity supply, allowing them unfettered access to the visitor centre at one of Ireland’s leading tourist attractions.

Visitors were yesterday warned away from the Co Clare coastal beauty spot while ESB Networks technicians worked to restore power.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#Lighthouses - Guardian travel writer Yvonne Gordon was impressed by a recent visit to St John’s Point Lighthouse in Co Down, part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland tourism initiative launched last year.

In operation since the Victorian era, the structure south of Killough is still a working lighthouse, but now visitors can stay in two of the former light keeper's cottages adjacent to the building.

The tallest lighthouse on Ireland's coastline at 40 metres, it also has a literary connection, as playwright and author Brendan Behan followed in his father's footsteps as a lighthouse painter when he helped slap a coat on the tower in 1950 – though not necessarily to the satisfaction of his employers.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Lighthouses
Tagged under

#TitanicBelfast - Titanic Belfast is Europe's leading tourist attraction, after scooping a top gong at a major industry awards ceremony.

Paying tribute to the ill-fated ocean liner RMS Titanic and its history in the city, the Belfast Lough visitor centre took the award for Europe's Leading Visitor Attraction at the World Travel Awards in Sardinia last night (Monday 5 September), according to TheJournal.ie.

The Guinness Storehouse, Buckingham Palace and the Colosseum in Rome were among the renowned tourist hotspots beaten to the prize, the first for Northern Ireland in the history of the awards.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the four-year-old venue saw a 2% growth in visitor numbers in the 12 months before March this year, along with a 7% growth in revenues.

Published in Titanic
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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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