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Offshore Renewable Energy Projects

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Consents for Offshore Renewable Energy Projects

Typical marine renewable energy developments include Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal projects.  While the nature, scale and impact of these developments can vary significantly, all require foreshore consent (i) to investigate/survey the site (ii) to construct the development (and cabling) and (iii) to occupy the property.

Offshore Renewables - Policy Framework

In February 2014, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP).  The purpose of the OREDP is to provide a framework for the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy in Ireland.  The OREDP acknowledges that realising the potential of offshore renewable energy can only be achieved if offshore renewable energy developments do not adversely impact Ireland’s rich marine environment.

The OREDP is grounded in the principle that all development of offshore wind and ocean energy in Irish waters will be fully in line with Ireland’s EU and international environmental obligations and best practice. The OREDP identifies the opportunity for Ireland of realising the potential of our offshore energy resources for increasing indigenous production of renewable electricity, thereby contributing to reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy. The implementation of the OREDP, led by DCENR, will be mechanism through which government action across the environmental, energy policy and economic development dimensions will be coordinated to support the offshore renewable energy sector to reach commercial viability.

New Offshore Renewal Energy (ORE) Applications post the publication of the OREDP.

The Department’s current position of not accepting new Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) applications other than those for site investigation and demonstration projects will remain in force for the foreseeable future.  It is also recognised that the OREDP is one element only of the planning framework needed to facilitate the most comprehensive appraisal of foreshore developments.  To this end, work on the drafting of the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill, the General Scheme of which was approved by Government in July 2013, is underway.  It is proposed that this legislation will integrate the foreshore consent process for infrastructure projects such as offshore renewable energy within the strategic infrastructure consent process operated by An Bord Pleanála; other projects will be considered within the wider planning consent process operated by the local authorities.  Accordingly, all future applications for commercial ORE projects will be considered in the context of the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill.

At present, DECLG is accepting new applications for Investigation Licences and for Pilot Projects of a non-commercial nature only.  Leasing policy for new commercial developments is currently under review.  It should be noted that the granting or refusal of any foreshore investigative licence does not give rise on the part of the applicant to any expectation whatsoever for, right or entitlement to a grant of any future permission in respect of an area of foreshore.

Investigation Licences

Investigation licences permit a developer to undertake testing of energy devices and/or surveying at specific locations to determine their suitability for energy generation and are subject to specific conditions that address, but are not confined to, (i) the scale of the project and (ii) the duration of  occupation of the foreshore.  Parties interested in applying for an Investigation Licence should contact the Foreshore Unit to arrange a pre-application consultation.  An application form for a licence may be made available to developers, as appropriate, following this consultation

Making an Application and Existing Applications

1. New applications for an ORE foreshore licence:

  • Pre-application consultation* with this Department is mandatory.
  • Investigation licence applications will be considered.

2. Existing applications for an ORE foreshore licence:

  • Investigation licence applications are being considered.
  • Pre-application consultation* is mandatory.

3. Existing applications for an ORE foreshore lease:

  • Where the technical environmental assessment has not yet concluded, the application will be considered in the context of the OREDP and its associated Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessments;
  • Where the technical environmental assessment has concluded; the application will be assessed against specific financial, legal, and technical conditions (Conditions Precedent).

*Pre-application Consultation

Prior to submitting an application for an investigation licence, you should arrange for a pre-application consultation with the Marine Planning and Foreshore Section.  The consultation is designed to ensure that the application can be completed appropriately before it may be accepted by this Department for processing.  The guidance and forms below will assist you in preparing for that meeting.

Please email foreshore@environ.ie or telephone to arrange a pre-application consultation.

Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Guidance and Forms

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