Seven licences to four offshore consortia for site research

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The Irish government has granted seven licences to four consortia to test for sites for wind plant off Ireland's east coast. The Department of Marine and Natural Resources has licensed: Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff for three sites off counties Wicklow and Wexford; the Kish Consortium -- comprising ESB International, Tralee-based Saorgus and PowerGen of the UK -- for two areas off Dublin and Wicklow; and Wind Farm Developments Ltd and the Sure Partners each have one licence for sites off Wexford and Wicklow, respectively, and are still being considered for further sites off the coast of Louth. The licences run for up to four years and allow wave, current and tidal monitoring, seabed and geotechnical surveys, temporary moorings, and 40-50 m anemometer masts. Licensees pay a deposit of £178,756 (EUR 100,000) and are expected to provide the department with a progress report every two months once investigations begin. Marine minister Frank Fahey emphasises that the licences do not permit construction of wind turbines. This requires a Foreshore Lease, preceded by "comprehensive public consultation, full environmental impact statement and planning permission." Further authorisations to build and operate offshore wind plant must also be obtained from the Commission for Electricity Regulation. These are the first licences to be issued since Fahey introduced his offshore policy earlier in the year.

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