By Paul O’Malley
Mayo’s coastline may not be included as a Broad Area of Interest in the government’s Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP).
The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications recently published a second draft of the OREDP in which three Broad Areas of Interest were identified for future ORE development: the Celtic Sea East area off the coast of Cork, the Mid-West area off the coast of the Shannon Estuary and Foynes and the North-West area off the coast of Donegal.
The criteria for the selection of these areas focused around their level of ability to supply a supply chain, their routes to the market and existing marine infrastructure. A presentation on this plan was given at last week’s Economic Development, Enterprise Support, Planning and Marine SPC by Marine Officer with Mayo Co Co, Michael O’Boyle.
Cllr Mark Duffy said that the draft plan does not make good reading from a Mayo perspective and said that the draft would need to be rejected.
“It leaves us weak in terms of industrial development and sidelines our potential for an offshore wind industry in Mayo. We need to be strong in rejecting this draft.”
Cllr Neil Cruise said the criteria for inclusion created a Catch-22 situation for Mayo, as the county lacks significant marine infrastructure such as ports and harbours, citing the failure to develop a deep water harbour at Kilcummin in recent years.
He said that if Mayo’s coastline is not selected to be its own Broad Area of Interest, then key sites such as Belmullet should be included as part of the North-West Broad Area of Interest.
Mr O’Boyle said the Council is hopeful that the North-West area can be extended to include parts of Mayo and said they will need to make a submission before the deadline in mid-April.