Seven Offshore Wind Projects given ‘Relevant Project’ status
On 19 May 2020 the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government (DHPLG) announced that seven Irish offshore wind projects have been designated as 'Relevant Projects' in the context of forthcoming Marine Planning and Development Management legislation (MPDM).
The seven Relevant Projects have the potential to deliver 3.8GW of capacity as part of Ireland's strategy to support very significant deployment of offshore wind projects between now and 2030.
|Oriel Windfarm||East Coast (Irish Sea)||330MW||Parkwind NV / ESB|
|Dublin Array (Bray and Kish Banks Projects)||East Coast (Irish Sea)||600MW||Innogy|
|Codling Bank Wind Park (Codling Phase I and II Projects)||East Coast (Irish Sea)||2,100MW||Fred Olsen / EDF|
|Skerd Rocks||West Coast (Atlantic Sea)||100MW||Fuinneamh Sceirde Teo|
|North Irish Sea Array||East Coast (Irish Sea)||750MW||Statkraft|
What does it mean to be a Relevant Project?
In early 2020, the Irish Government published a 'Transitional Protocol' under which it stated that offshore wind projects that qualify as 'Relevant Projects' will be entitled to receive a 'Planning Interest' under the new MPDM when enacted. A Planning Interest is the first 'gate' in the proposed new marine planning process and will be a pre-requisite for all offshore renewable energy planning applications to the Irish planning authority (An Bord Pleanála). Developers of Relevant Projects will therefore have priority over earlier stage projects in accessing the planning process for those Relevant Projects when the new offshore consenting regime is in place.
On foot of a direction issued by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities in January 2020, EirGrid is required to commence processing grid applications from projects that are designation as a 'Relevant Project' under the Transitional Protocol. It is expected that the formal designation of Relevant Projects by DHPLG will facilitate engagement between EirGrid and these projects.
Why has the Government taken this step?
There has been significant uncertainty for developers of offshore wind projects in Ireland in recent years, particularly in relation to the offshore and onshore consenting process for their projects. The Climate Action Plan published in July 2019 (which underpins the Government's policy for incentivising offshore wind projects) committed to address the question of how these 'legacy projects' would be treated under any new legislative regime for offshore renewable energy projects. The designation of Relevant Projects is the latest step by Government to clarify the position of these projects. It represents a welcome effort to give greater certainty and confidence to developers of these projects so as to facilitate the continued significant financial investment required to progress these projects in advance of the implementation of MPDM.
For more information please contact Ross Moore, partner or John Dallas, partner on our Energy, Infrastructure & Natural Resources team or Alan Roberts, partner or Alison Fanagan, consultant, on our Environmental & Planning team.
Date published: 19 May 2020