Proposals for wind farms off the coast of Wicklow are to be fast-tracked under new Government plans to ramp up the production of renewable energy.
The two phases of the Codling offshore wind farm project and Innology Renewables' planned 'Dublin Array' windfarm at the Bray and Kish banks have been named as 'relevant projects'. This means they will be able to apply under new marine planning rules.
Hundreds of wind turbines are proposed for the Codling offshore project in the Irish Sea which is 13km off the coast between Greystones and Wicklow Town. It is spread across two sites, one of which is already consented.
Innology Renewables applied for a foreshore licence to conduct site investigations for a proposed windfarm on the Bray and Kish banks on a site that extends from Booterstown to Greystones.
The Climate Action Plan commits to an increase in Ireland's offshore wind capacity to 3.5GW as part of the goal of reaching 70 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
New laws to update the marine planning rules for offshore renewable energy projects are being prepared. The designated 'relevant projects' will be allowed to continue with site surveys and prepare environmental assessments. No construction work on these offshore projects can start unless planning permission is obtained from An Bord Pleanala.
Meanwhile, the developer of the Arkow Bank wind farm said it hadn't applied to have the proposal listed as a 'relevant project'. SSE Renewables said it was not expecting to make 'material planning amendments' to its existing consent for the proposed 520MW wind farm off the coast of south Wicklow.
A spokesperson for SSE Renewables said the company 'intend to continue to proceed with our development plans for our exciting project under the existing Foreshore legislation, and we will continue to work with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in this regard.'
The company has indicated it would invest around €2 billion in the Arklow project.