Public Consultation on draft Guidance Documents to support the development of Offshore Renewable Energy

 

Draft Guidance on the preparation of Environment Impact Statements and Natura Impact Statements, and on Marine Baseline Assessments and Monitoring Activities for Offshore Renewable Energy projects

 

22 Sept 2016

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., has today announced a 12 week public consultation on two draft Guidance documents to help support the development of offshore renewable energy in Ireland. 

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." 

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.  

The purpose of the draft Guidance document on the preparation of EIS and NIS is to assist developers in preparing the relevant statements that may be required for development projects and also to provide competent authorities, consultation bodies and the public with a basis for determining the adequacy of these statements.

The purpose of the draft Guidance document on Marine Baseline Assessments and Monitoring Activities is to provide technical guidance on the data requirements and monitoring necessary to evaluate potential environmental impacts of renewable energy projects in the marine area, provide specific recommendations and an overview of best practice in this regard.

Minister Naughten added "The preparation of these draft Guidance documents is one of a number of projects being progressed under the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, and it is hoped that they will be of interest not just to the offshore renewable energy industry but will be of wider interest also.  I look forward to feedback from all relevant stakeholders."

Further details on the consultation and the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan can be found on the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website at: http://www.dccae.gov.ie/energy/en-ie/Pages/Consultation/Public-Consultation-on-draft-Guidance-Documents-for-Offshore-Renewable-Energy-Development.aspx 

The public consultation will close at 5pm on Friday 16 December, 2016

Submissions can be sent electronically to the following mailbox:  oredp@dccae.gov.ie

 

Note to Editor

The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) sets out the Government's plan for the sustainable development of Ireland's abundant offshore renewable energy resource.  The plan identifies how best to link action across the environmental, energy and economic development sectors – using both existing wind and emerging ocean and tidal technologies.  A Steering Group (ORESG) has been established to oversee the implementation of the plan, with three main areas of focus: Environment; Infrastructure; and Job Creation.  The development of these draft Guidance documents is a key deliverable of the Environment Working Group.

The aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is to ensure that projects which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment are assessed in advance so that people are aware of what those effects are likely to be.  An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be included with the planning application for certain developments.  It is drawn up by the developer and must contain an analysis of the likely effects of a proposed development on the environment, including on people, flora, fauna, soil, water, air, landscape and cultural heritage.  A Natura Impact Statement (NIS) looks at the possible implications of a plan or project on Natura 2000 sites (ecologically important sites).

The draft Guidance document on the preparation of Environment Impact Statements (EIS) and Natura Impact Statements (NIS) is based, in the main, on existing statutory obligations, and has been tailored specifically towards the offshore renewable energy industry.  

The draft guidance document on Marine Baseline Assessments and Monitoring Activities is primarily aimed at specialists (e.g. ecologists, archaeologists, oceanographers and modellers) who have the expertise to deliver the required surveys and analysis for offshore renewable energy projects to professional standards. 

 
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