“Without prejudice to the negotiation of territorial sea boundaries…”

The Northern Ireland Energy Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, has welcomed the “announcement by The Crown Estate of two parallel Leasing Rounds for offshore wind and tidal stream development as new sources of renewable energy for Northern Ireland.”  The Crown Estate website has more details here.

From the Minister’s press release

Arlene Foster said: “Today’s announcement by The Crown Estate opens up new Leasing Rounds in Northern Ireland waters. This marks a major step forward in the growth of our offshore renewable energy industry. This follows on from discussions with the sector to identify the best way to release our offshore resources to optimise market interest and secure sustainable renewable and economic benefits for Northern Ireland.

And, as the NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, points out, the announcement “was made possible by the recent Memorandum of Understanding agreed by the UK and Irish Governments, with the support of the Northern Ireland Executive, which provides clarity to potential investors on marine jurisdictional issues.”  From Owen Paterson’s statement

Welcoming the news, the Secretary of State said:

“The Memorandum of Understanding reached by the two Governments with the support of the Northern Ireland Executive paves the way for the development of wind and tidal energy off the coast of Northern Ireland, which will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to Northern Ireland”.

The Tánaiste remarked:

“This once again demonstrates the economic benefits that close co-operation between the two Governments and the Executive can bring to this island.”

And here is the recent Memorandum of Understanding [pdf file]

The Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Ireland:

Taking note of recent discussions between officials of the two Governments, as well as from the Northern Ireland Executive, concerning each side’s plans for the promotion of offshore renewable energy development;

Convinced that such development would be of benefit to all those throughout the island of Ireland;

Recognising that potential developers and their financiers require clarity;

Without prejudice to the negotiation of territorial sea boundaries;

Have reached the following understandings:

(1)  The two Governments may each arrange for the lease of the seabed to facilitate the development of offshore renewable energy installations, and for the licensing of construction and operation of such installations, up to their respective sides of the two lines constituted by the list of coordinates at Annex A, and depicted on the illustrative maps at Annex B.

(2)  The terms of this Memorandum may be made public, in particular to potential developers.

And from Annex B here’s the first illustrative map – depicting the agreed line between Northern Ireland and Ireland at Lough Foyle.



And here’s the second illustrative map – depicting the agreed line between Northern Ireland and Ireland at Carlingford Lough.


If you were wondering why the lines stop at the entrances to the respective Loughs, that would be because there is still no full agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom on the delimitation of a territorial water boundary – hence the “Without prejudice to the negotiation of territorial sea boundaries”.

But it’s a start!  And it might, just, pave the way for the long-promised Northern Ireland Marine Bill…

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  • galloglaigh

    Who ever compiled those maps, has failed to realise that Northern Ireland, is as much Ireland as the Republic of Ireland!

  • Tell that to the Irish Foreign Ministry, which insists on being called “Ireland” rather than “Republic of Ireland” in all international documents.

  • socaire

    What about the line between England and Northern England?

  • Reader

    socaire: Northern England
    That’s actually “Scotland”. Normally only Americans get things so far wrong. And the boundary between England and Scotland isn’t an international boundary (yet)

  • ayeYerMa

    Indeed the fawning of the UK government and aquiescing to ever agree to call the Republic “Ireland” really makes me want to vomit. Perhaps they are just backing off to not make a fuss and show up the Dublin gombeens. Whatever, Dublin needs to sort this out as it is one issue that irates both northern Nationalists and Unionists alike.

    Back on topic, and I think the Foyle boundary has been rather over-generous to the Republic.

  • AYM,

    Re the name of the republic, that’s one thing they should have done in addition to dropping the territorial claim back in 97. Unfortunately it’s not fawning: UK extradition warrants got sent back until they got the name right.

    The Foyle boundary looks equidistant to me. What’s unfair about it?

  • SK


    Assumedly you get just as outraged by those unionists who use the term ‘Ulster’ as if it’s interchangeable with ‘Northern Ireland’?

    Because it’s not like you’re a hypocrite or anything.

  • Roy Walsh

    Art. 2, Bunreacht na hÉireann
    ‘the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas’
    as was pre 1998
    ‘The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas’
    Frankly too much was surrendered in ’98

  • Reader

    Roy Walsh: Frankly too much was surrendered in ’98
    No more than was needed to acknowledge equality and the Principle of Consent.
    Or was that exactly what you meant?


    It may be worth noting Article 4 of the Constitution of Ireland (whether you agree with it or not).

    The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.

  • aquifer

    Great news. In renewable energy project finance uncertainty equals increased costs and the possibility of no project at all.

    And never mind the ‘without prejudice’, make those well placed lines the border and let our civil servants do something useful instead.

  • Lionel Hutz

    we dont call spain “the kingdom of spain” orFrance “the French Republic”

    Why would call Ireland “the Republic of Ireland”

  • Harry Flashman

    I thought the Foyle was de facto British waters as it was controlled by the Londonderry Harbour Commission, to the extent that the pilot boat and pier in Moville, in Donegal, were run by the Harbour Commision.

    Who paid compensation to the owners of the Nellie M and St Bedan when they were sunk by the IRA in the early eighties?

  • Boglover

    Does this mean Ireland will update the “Real Map of Ireland”? See
    http://www.marine.ie/NR/rdonlyres/5960CD91-B5D9-4788-B57E-247634A3013A/0/TheRealMapofIreland_Nov09.pdf (5 Mb file)

  • Reader

    Lionel Hutz: Why would call Ireland “the Republic of Ireland”
    Likewise, why call America ‘the United States of America’?
    Though I suppose it’s a teensy bit embarrassing (in both cases ) when Destiny fails to deliver in full.

  • “Foyle was de facto British waters”

    Harry, here’s the UK government’s position in 1982:

    “Mr Michael Havers (Wimbledon) The Government’s position is that Lough Foyle falls within the United Kingdom. The Government of the Republic of Ireland dispute our claim.”

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes that’s as I remember it Nevin, particularly in regard to the pilot boat in Moville which is British run.

  • aquifer

    A throwback to when Britain ruled the waves, and retained deep water Royal Navy ‘treaty ports’ in the west of Ireland after ‘independence’. Derry was a also major base in the War of the Atlantic.

    The Brits might still want plenty of ‘Sea Room’ around these shores, to be able to keep their Nuclear Submarines hid for one thing. But they have no rights to a monopoly on the sea bed.

  • The Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners have jurisdiction for the purposes of Pilotage over an inner area bounded by the Craigavon Bridge, Magilligan Point and Moville Fort and an outer area bounded by abcde as shown on this map [jpg]. Sea bed jurisdiction would be another matter.

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually there were no treaty ports in the west of Ireland.

    The fact that the Royal Navy freely sails through the Foyle without hindrance or protest, indeed I often saw RN minesweepers patrolling the lough in recent years in a way that no British land forces would be permitted to do along the Donegal shore, rather indicates that the Republic has by default conceded sovereignty of the Foyle to the Brits.

    As a matter of interest what’s the status of the Irish Lights, who maintain the navigational buoys and lighthouses?

  • Harry Flashman

    That would be Greencastle fort Nevin, I suspect.

  • You’re quite right, Harry, Greencastle Fort. I must have been distracted by Moville on the map!

  • Harry, here are links to the Commissioners for Irish Lights and the UK based General Lighthouse Fund [pdf file]. It appears to be a fairly complex arrangement involving the UK and Ireland transport departments.

  • Harry Flashman

    “It appears to be a fairly complex arrangement involving the UK and Ireland transport departments.”

    And then of course there’s the cross-border Foyle Fisheries to throw into the mix.

  • JH

    I understood the original anglo-irish treaty (1920’s) established the Free State as the island of Ireland, her islands and seas, bar the landmass of the designated ‘Northern Ireland’.

    That would mean, technically, the entire waters around the island, as well as islands like Rathlin, belong to the south and that without a definitive territorial renegotiation the British administration of them is for convenience only, no?

  • From the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea:
    A state’s territorial sea extends up to 12 nautical miles from its baseline. If this would overlap with another state’s territorial sea, the border is taken as the median point between the states’ baselines, unless the states in question agree otherwise.

    It appears that there is no agreement so the default is the median line for now.