Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Wind Energy Generation
186. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the arrangements being put in place to ensure proper inclusion of the adjacent coastal communities that will be affected by the offshore wind facilities in the process of development; if the requirement to have an advisory board on such projects with local representation has been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62601/21]
The Government considers citizen engagement to be at the heart of Ireland’s energy and climate transformation. Local coastal communities will be central to the decision-making processes of community engagement initiatives as part of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy journey.
The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Bill, which has been passed by Dáil Éireann and is currently before Seanad Éireann, will enable the realisation of our offshore renewable energy ambition by establishing a well-regulated and inclusive consenting process, with comprehensive environmental assessments and consultative processes to enable meaningful community engagement.
As part of the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF), the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage established an Advisory Group to facilitate participation in the marine spatial planning process by all relevant stakeholders from the economic, environmental and social pillars including representatives from the County and City Management Association and Association of Irish Local Government. Work on a revised Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP II), which will provide an evidence base for the identification of areas most suitable for the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy, has been initiated by my Department. As part of that process, my Department will invite members of the NMPF Advisory Group to take part in the development of the OREDP II.
My Department has recently completed a public consultation on the draft terms and conditions for the first offshore wind auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, ORESS 1, which will support offshore wind development in Ireland. Projects successful at this auction will be required to make significant community benefit contributions from an early stage in the lifecycle of an offshore wind project. There has been a significant response from local communities to this consultation and my Department will now carefully consider all submissions before issuing a formal response early next year.
187. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the arrangements that are being put in place to ensure that adjacent local communities will be able to acquire a stake in offshore wind projects as the host communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62602/21]
My Department has just this month completed a public consultation on the draft terms and conditions for the first offshore wind auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, ORESS 1, which will support the first phase of offshore wind development in Ireland. The submissions are now being considered in preparation of a formal response early next year.
Ireland's ambitious offshore target of 5GW by 2030 will require investment of billions of euro in Ireland’s offshore renewable energy sector, which will deliver considerable benefits to coastal communities in terms of high-value jobs, and indigenous supply chains. The significant role for regional ports in development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy sector, and the need for investment in port infrastructure, will also benefit local coastal communities through employment and commercial opportunities.
A medium-size offshore windpark now entails installed capacity of circa 500MW and a corresponding capital expenditure of over €1.5 billion, accordingly to the latest estimates provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It is proposed that the RESS auction for offshore would mandate a community benefit fund payment of €2 for every MW/hour of energy generated. Given the anticipated high levels of offshore generating potential, this will ensure multi-million Euro contributions per offshore project, per annum, to offshore communities over the entire duration of the project.
Local communities are central to the decision-making processes of community engagement initiatives as part of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy commitments under the Climate Action Plan. In order to ensure the highest levels of good governance and administration of the community benefit funds, guidance will be provided to local communities, stakeholders such as local fishers and the offshore industry itself to encourage and facilitate good design of local benefit schemes.