Two Foreshore Leases have been granted in respect of applications for offshore wind farms, the Arklow Bank Wind Farm and Codling I Bank Wind Park Farm, off the Wicklow coast, in 2002 and 2005. These leases were issued by the then Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources who had responsibility for foreshore functions at that time.
My Department has the following five Offshore Renewable Energy Applications on hand:
- Codling II Bank Wind Park Farm (same company as for Codling I),
- Oriel Wind Farm,
- Dublin Array Wind Farm (Kish and Bray Bank are two separate applications), and
- Sceirde Wind Farm (Fuinneamh Sceirde Teo)(FST).
Under the Climate Action Plan to tackle Climate Breakdown, my Department is required to consider each of the five historic ORE applications cases and the two leases which have already been granted, and decide whether they can proceed under the existing Foreshore Act or should they be determined under the regime proposed in the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill. The deadline to finalise our discussions with each of these applicants is the end of December 2019.
My Department is not currently accepting new Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) lease applications other than those for site investigation and demonstration projects. It should also 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.
In the past three years, eight licences (1 test project and 7 Site investigations) related to ORE projects have been granted by my Department.
There are currently 20 ORE related investigation applications, which are at a predetermination stage.
In terms of developing an offshore wind farm, a Foreshore Lease is only one of a number of consents that are necessary for its development. Other consents that are required include terrestrial planning permission, an ability to output to the national grid, and a licence to generate electricity. In addition to the development and planning consents that are required, offshore wind farms also require subsidy support, which is being made available through the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) developed by my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.