independent

Monday 16 December 2019

SSE applies for foreshore licence

Eimear Dodd

SSE Renewables has applied for a foreshore licence to carry out investigations at the Arklow Bank Wind Farm and the site of a potential operations base in Arklow.

The company is currently carrying out an ongoing process of assessing Wicklow Port and Arklow Harbour as possible locations for an onshore hub for servicing and maintaining the offshore wind farm. A decision on the preferred location has yet been made.

The application has been made to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for a licence to carry out surveys to collect information for the next phase of Arklow Bank Wind Farm project. There are also plans for surveys of potential cable routes, landfall sites and at Arklow Harbour. A wind conditions survey is also proposed.

A SSE Renewables spokesperson said, 'SSE Renewables has applied for a Foreshore Licence to carry out site investigations for Arklow Bank Wind Park. The Foreshore Licence will facilitate undertaking survey work to support development activities at the wind farm site, along the cable route and at potential operation bases between now and construction. This survey work is a routine part of the development process and will add to the existing information currently held in order to facilitate the ongoing engineering and design of the project, prior to construction.

'The SSE Renewables project development team is working intensely on the ongoing design and engineering for the next stage of the project, and this Foreshore Licence application is another positive indicator of the progress being made in the development of Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2. Key future milestones in the project programme for the year ahead include securing a grid connection and securing a support contract for low carbon energy from Government under the new Renewables Electricity Support Scheme regime, and the project roadmap for both of these milestones is significantly advanced and on course.'

According to the application documents, the proposed surveys will provide a 'further level of detail required to inform the initial engineering design of the foundation structions'. The information would be used to comply a detailed model of the area to support the design of turbines, foundations, cables and other equipment.

Investigations proposed include the drilling of boreholes at the potential sites of turbines at the Arklow Bank Wind Farm site. Permission is also sought for the drilling of six boreholes in Arklow Harbour at the potential site of an onshore base. A survey of the wind conditions on the Arklow Bank site wpi;d also be carried out.

The application goes on to note that further surveys will be required before the construction of turbines can commence, with a separate foreshore licence to be applied for at a later date.

If the licence is granted, the application states that surveys would begin in early 2020 and would be scheduled in the spring and summer months over a three-year period.

A supporting document compiled by Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions Ltd. notes that the Arklow Harbour survey is estimated to take around two to three weeks, while the wind resource survey could take between one and two years.

Submissions can be made before January 3, 2020 to the Marine Planning and Foreshore Section, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Newtown Road, Wexford, Co Wexford or foreshore@housing.gov.ie.

A 99-year foreshore lease was granted in 2002 for a 520 MW offshore wind farm off the coast from Arklow. SSE Renewables has indicated it plans to invest up to €2 million in the second phase of the project. Company representatives confirmed to members of Arklow Municipal District in March last that Wicklow and Arklow were being considered as possible sites for the land-based hub.

Wicklow People

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