Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Ports Policy

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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66. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the supports being provided by his Department to relevant ports to progress offshore wind development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28569/24]

Photo of Darren O'RourkeDarren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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147. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the work his Department is carrying out to ensure that Ireland’s port infrastructure is sufficient to meet our 2030 ORE targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27731/24]

Photo of James LawlessJames Lawless (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 147 together.

My Department is committed to facilitating commercial Irish State ports under its remit as positive contributors to the offshore renewable energy (ORE) industry to support Ireland in meeting its 2030 ORE targets. Supporting the development of port infrastructure is a core objective of the National Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce and the Department is working very closely with the Taskforce in this regard.

In 2021, the Department of Transport published a policy statement on the facilitation of offshore renewable energy by commercial ports in Ireland. This policy statement emphasises the importance of port facilities in Ireland for ORE developments and encourages all ports to actively engage with potential development opportunities. The policy statement also confirmed that eligible ports under the EU's Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) can apply for funding for ORE related port infrastructure under the EU's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding. A dedicated ORE Ports Facilitation Division has been established in the department to facilitate ports as they progress plans to service the offshore wind industry.

Government policy on commercial state ports is that they operate on a self-funding basis. Under current policy, ports receive no exchequer funding and must finance their infrastructure developments, including that necessary for Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE), through their own revenues, borrowings, EU grant funding, or private sector involvement.

Notwithstanding this, officials in the Department of Transport continue to engage with all industry stakeholders with a view to maximising all financing opportunities available to Irish Commercial State ports. This includes potential financing partners such as the European Union (EU), through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) fund, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which is a Sovereign Investment Fund with a mandate to invest on a commercial basis to support economic activity and employment in Ireland.

This engagement is evidenced through the assistance given to commercial ports who applied for funding under the 2023 call for the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) fund to develop infrastructure to facilitate offshore wind projects. Officials in the Department of Transport provided critical feedback and guidance on the CEF applications. If successful, ports can obtain up to 30% of costs for infrastructure or up to 50% of costs for studies. The results of the funding call are expected in mid-July of 2024.

Furthermore, the Department is working with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which Bank is providing advisory support concerning a number of ORE port projects, which projects are expected to require financing in order to undertake the significant capital investment required to develop the necessary ORE infrastructure. The results of this engagement by the EIB will inform the approach of both ports and the Department in identifying sources of finance for these projects.

An ORE Ports Co-Ordination Group has also been established by the Department to facilitate consistent engagement with key stakeholders on ports’ progress with their ORE projects. The group meets on a quarterly basis and not only allows for ports to engage directly with the Department of Transport but other key government Departments relevant to the delivery of ORE.

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