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…