For Oral Answer on : 28/02/2023
Question Number(s): 91 Question Reference(s): 9953/23
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for the Environment; Climate and Communications the ways his Department is supporting the development of fixed-bottom offshore wind infrastructure for power generation; his further ambitions and development timescales for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Government is delivering on our climate and energy ambitions for offshore wind energy through a number of phased developments. The Phase One projects, which are the first batch to progress through the planning process and offshore auctions, will deploy fixed-bottom technology, with the majority of these Phase One projects on the east coast, and one on the west coast.
The Maritime Area Planning Act has introduced significant reform to enable the sustainable development of our offshore resource. It provided the legal authority for me as the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to assess Maritime Area Consent applications from a set of 7 pre-qualified offshore renewable energy projects, while the new agency, Maritime Area Regulatory Authority, is being established.
Significant work was undertaken by my Department over the last year to build the detailed procedures required to enable these projects to apply for Maritime Area Consents. Following detailed assessment of the applications, seven Phase One projects were granted a Maritime Area Consent in December 2022.
This is an important step in making sure that viable Phase One projects can progress through the planning system in a timely manner and become operational later this decade.
Phase One projects which obtain a Maritime Area Consent will be required to apply for all requisite consents, including planning permission. A joined-up approach to the delivery of our 2030 targets is being driven through the Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce which I have established.
In parallel, the planning reforms which the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is introducing, will help ensure a timely and efficient progression of these projects through the planning system and ensure delivery on our offshore wind targets by 2030.