Print Print Page | A | A | A

POLICY UPDATE

15 JANUARY 2010

Transfer of certain Foreshore Functions to the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government.

Foreshore and Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Act 2009

Following on from the enactment of the above legislation, responsibility for certain foreshore functions has transferred to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with effect from 15 Jan, 2010.

This includes all energy related developments (including oil, gas, wind, wave and tidal energy) on the foreshore.

All existing applications for foreshore permissions will transfer automatically for consideration to the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government.

Potential new applicants for foreshore leases/licences requiring an environmental impact assessment must engage in pre-application consultations with the Foreshore Unit (DEHLG) prior to submitting a formal application.

Further details are set out at www.environ.ie/en/foreshore

16 DECEMBER 2009

Economic impact of increasing investment in wind

The ESRI has published The Likely Economic Impact of Increasing Investment in Wind on the Island of Ireland, an economic policy review on sourcing electricity needs from wind and building and maintaining the transmission network to accommodate this.

Writing in the Irish Times, Professor John Fitzgerald, an author of the report states “The price guarantee scheme, appropriately adjusted, is probably the best way of ensuring the investment in wind generation takes place at minimum cost to consumers. However, the guaranteed price scheme extends to other renewable generators in ways likely to impose substantial unnecessary long-term costs on consumers. The current policy provides a similar type of incentive scheme for offshore wind generators (and tidal and wave generators) and offers offshore wind at a minimum price more than twice that of on-shore wind generators. This could be very expensive if the scheme is successful, without improving the environmental outlook.

Our research suggests all the renewable electricity the Irish system could absorb can be provided more cheaply by land windmills.

If this cheap source is displaced by heavily subsidised renewable generation offshore, there will be no reduction in emissions but consumers will pay a higher price.

If it is desired to finance research in offshore technology, this should be done by explicit funding from the taxpayer, not the consumer.”

DECEMBER 2009

Ireland and eight European countries agree on North Seas Wind Project

Minister Eamon Ryan has recently signed a political declaration on the North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative.

The Initiative will examine the construction of an offshore wind energy grid, or “Supergrid” in the North and North West Seas. It will involve Ireland and the UK, the Benelux countries, Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany. It will build on work carried out to date, particularly with the Irish Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES) infrastructure project.

Commenting on the agreement, Minister Ryan said,

"Irish wind farms will be able to connect directly to Europe, not only securing our energy supply but allowing us to sell the electricity produced on a wider market."

AUTUMN 2009

Strategic Environmental Assessment of Wave, Tidal and Offshore Wind Development in Irish Waters.

EU Directive 2001/42/EC, on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Plans and Programmes on the Environment (The SEA Directive), requires that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is undertaken to evaluate the likely significant environmental effects of certain public plans and programme. This directive came into force in date and was ratified by Ireland in date.

Ireland is the only EU country to have advanced significant amounts of offshore wind development through the permitting process without first putting in place a strategic plan and carrying out a SEA to assess cumulative effects. Coastal Concern Alliance, along with key environmental NGOs, has been lobbying consistently for a SEA.

In 2009, The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, as the competent authority, requested that the Ocean Energy Development Unit, working in close collaboration with the Marine Institute, undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of Offshore Wind and Marine Renewable Energy in Ireland.

The SEA will provide a high level of protection for the environment by integrating environmental considerations and promoting sustainable development. The SEA does not do away with the need for individual project environmental impact assessment (EIA) where such assessment is required under EU Law. The SEA provides an assessment at a strategic high level (e.g. national/regional) with EIA providing a more detailed assessment at a project specific level.

See separate section on SEA.