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Mayo’s offshore potential ‘enormous’



Coastal communities in Mayo stand to benefit from offshore wind, says Wind Energy Ireland spokesman

Oisín McGovern

A SPOKESMAN for Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) has said that economically deprived parts of Mayo could benefit from the development of offshore wind energy.
Speaking to The Mayo News, WEI’s Head of Policy Niall Goodwin said that coastal counties like Mayo had ‘enormous potential’ for offshore wind development. He said that coastal areas like Achill and Erris could potentially stand to benefit from job creation resulting from offshore wind developments.
He added that the north Connacht 110kv upgrade would provide ‘badly needed’ to deliver extra capacity from wind energy.
Mayo County Council has set a target of generating 600MW of energy by the end of 2027 under the new county development plan.
“The coast of Mayo has some of the best wind resources in the world. It will be important in the coming years to plan for the development of renewables along our Atlantic coast and achieve our enormous offshore potential,” Mr Goodwin said.

Ports and piers
While there are no ports in the Republic of Ireland capable of constructing offshore wind farms, smaller piers and ports could potentially be upgraded to enable repair and maintenance of wind turbines.
Killybegs Harbour in Donegal was used to transport wind turbines to Oweninney wind farm prior to it commencing operation in 2019.
“We want to build and service Irish offshore wind farms in Irish ports. Ports and offshore developers alike are united on this,” Mr Goodwin stated.
“However, there will be a range of services needed beyond construction – particularly in the operations and maintenance of the projects when they are built. There will be potential for a range of ports and coastal areas to contribute throughout the process, large and small, and benefit from the local job creation and investment it brings,” he added.
“Additionally, many people in Mayo will know about and perhaps benefited from the community funds provided by local wind farms.
“As we develop our offshore industry, the projects will be of a larger scale, and this means significant levels of investment for local communities through the mandatory Community Benefit Fund (€2 per MWh under the RESS scheme).
“This will contribute greatly to driving investment and revitalising coastal communities.”

Framework needed
Erris-based TD Rose Conway-Walsh called for greater investment in coastal infrastructure but said appropriate consultation was needed in advance of any offshore wind developments.
“There needs to be a framework there. Not consultation just for the sake of ticking boxes, but real consultation and listening to people, people who are impacted by renewable energy projects. They need to be consulted with and they need to be heard,” Deputy Conway-Walsh said during an interview with The Mayo News.
“There is no point in coming into communities with a plan already devised and saying, ‘This is what it’s at and my only job is to convince you to come around to our way of thinking’,” she added.
“There has to be respect, respect for communities, respect for individuals, for families that live in these areas, and they have to have a benefit from it.”
The Sinn Féin TD also said that communities impacted by renewable energy projects should benefit from cheaper electricity bills.