For Oral Answer on : 15/06/2023
Question Number(s): 86 Question Reference(s): 28879/23
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for the Environment; Climate and Communications to outline the measure being taken by his Department to facilitate offshore wind energy development; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Significant work has been undertaken over the last two years to develop the regulatory framework to enable the construction and operation of offshore wind farms and associated infrastructure. The National Marine Planning Framework was adopted by Government in May 2021 and is Ireland’s first Marine Spatial Plan. The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act was enacted in December 2021 and established the legislative foundation for the new marine planning system.
Under the MAP Act, a new Maritime Area Consent (MAC) regime for offshore energy projects was developed by my Department. I issued the first MACs for seven Phase One offshore projects in December 2022.
In addition, the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) will be established in July to assess planning applications for offshore development. MARA will have sole authority for granting further MACs for all future marine infrastructure required to deploy offshore wind energy.
Yesterday, EirGrid announced the final results of the first offshore wind auction, ORESS 1 which will deliver over 3GW of offshore wind energy as a cheap, sustainable, and secure indigenous alternative to imported fossil fuels.
The successful Phase One projects with MACs will progress through the planning system. After securing planning permission from An Bord Pleanála, the developers will commence offshore wind farm construction and deployment, which will become operational in the latter part of this decade.
Further progress across all elements required to accelerate delivery of a sustainable offshore wind energy sector is being driven by my Department under the Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce.