Plans to ramp up offshore wind in Ireland get underway

Published by Ian Carey on

September 23rd 2016

The government are currently paving the way for the roll out of more offshore wind turbines in Irish waters.

This week the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment launched two public consultations for documents that will help the development of wind farms off our coasts.

Minister Denis Naughten announced a 12 week consultation on two documents.

The first document will help developers to understand the environmental checks needed in developing offshore wind and the second will provide technical guidance on how to monitor the impact of offshore turbines.  

Launching the consultations Minister Naughten said: “Ireland has some of the best offshore and ocean energy resources in Europe.  The Government is committed to the sustainable development of these renewable resources, which in time will help to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve our security of energy supply and support local employment.”

When former Minister Alex White launched the plan for Ireland’s energy future last year he described the development of offshore wind as the ‘next phase of our energy transition’.

Offshore wind farms have been known to cause some environmental impacts.


Constructing and installing a wind farm offshore creates substantial amounts of noise which can be harmful to marine species. Marine mammals can lose their ability to hear if they are exposed to the particularly load sounds associated with pile driving turbines into the seabed.

Collisions with turbine blades

Sea birds can be killed by collision with turbine blades. There is also the risk of shifting sea bird populations as wind farms force the migrating birds to change direction.

Damage to the sea bed 

Creatures that live on the sea bed, such as crabs, lobsters, and sponges, could also be impacted by wind farm construction.

There can also potentially be positive impacts as the base of a turbine can in some cases form a kind of artificial reef that is beneficial to invertebrates.

Draft Documents

The draft documents aim to provide Guidance on the preparation of Environment Impact Statements (EIS) and Natura Impact Statements (NIS) for offshore renewable energy projects and Guidance on Marine Baseline Assessments and Monitoring Activities to evaluate potential environmental impacts of renewable energy projects in the marine area.

The documents build on a workshop held with key stakeholders in 2015.  This consultation now provides the opportunity for further participation by stakeholders and the public and it is hoped that it will help ensure that the Guidance documents are as comprehensive and relevant as possible to developers and practitioners in the offshore renewable energy field.

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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.