Irish Fishing Businesses Express Concerns Over Offshore Windfarms
The development of offshore windfarms in Ireland has sparked concerns from fishing businesses, who worry about the impact on their industry. However, some experts believe that the two sectors can coexist and even benefit from each other.
Mark White, a marine sector expert and CEO of In Deep Business Growth, has said that the development of offshore windfarms could eventually lead to the creation of protected areas for fishing vessels. White, who has a PhD in marine zoology, believes that reducing large-scale fishing efforts and having protected areas where windfarms exist could lead to stock improvement and increased fish populations.
While some fishermen worry about the disruption that windfarm construction can create, such as new noise that can impact certain species of fish, Irish Fish Producers Organisation CEO Aodh O’Donnell believes that both industries can coexist if the offshore renewable sector takes advantage of new technologies to avoid spatial squeeze.
One Irish offshore wind development, backed by French company EDF Renewables and Norway’s Fred Olsen Seawind, recently pledged €500,000 to the local fishing industry around where the project is being built. The Codling Wind Park said that the Fisheries Fund will have a €100,000 annual budget to support initiatives for the next five years to benefit the fishing industry operating within and around the Codling Bank area of the Irish Sea.
Danish renewable energy company Orsted, which has been eyeing up opportunities in the Irish market, said it minimises the environmental impacts of its windfarms by using noise-mitigation screens and hydrosound dampers.
White believes that the two sectors will be forced to work alongside one another if Ireland is going to make any headway in addressing the growing threat to the climate. He said, “If we don’t do something to take on climate change, then change will just happen for these people and the downsides will be enormous with no upside.”
The Irish wind energy sector is anticipating a boost this week as the results of Ireland’s first Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction are expected to be published on Thursday. The process invites renewable energy projects to compete against each other to win contracts to provide electricity at a guaranteed price.
However, the renewable energy sector continues to battle various obstacles in Ireland despite growing interest in it. Planning applications for onshore windfarms are supposed to be decided by An Bord Pleanála within 18 weeks but, on average, are taking over a year to get a decision.