Backing for Estuary vision an essential vote of confidence

Shannon Foynes Port has welcomed government backing today of the Shannon Estuary as a premier location for offshore renewable energy as well as a transport hub for Ireland.

The publication of the Interim Report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce has identified how the region can play a leading role in the transition to renewable energy by generating and accelerating the increase of floating offshore wind energy from 2030, as well as becoming a hub for Sustainable Transport Technologies and a western “Digital Gateway” to Europe.

The report identifies investment in the port of Foynes and ESB’s Moneypoint terminal, a new auction for floating wind generation in 2024, the development of clean energy such as green hydrogen, solar energy installations and anerobic digestion facilities. In addition to the Estuary becoming an international renewable energy hub, the report also identifies the potential doubling of tourism numbers through outdoor sports and adventure, business and leisure events, and cruise ship arrivals.

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Commenting on the report and government backing of it, Shannon Foynes Port Authority Chief Executive Pat Keating: “This is an emphatic and welcome vote of confidence from Government in the transformational potential of the estuary and a key moment in the journey towards the emergence here of a global renewable energy hub and national transport hub.

“We have been making the case here at Shannon Foynes Port for some time in relation to the potential of the estuary but, as per its welcome today for the Interim Report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce, the government is unambiguous in its support around the vision for the Estuary.”

Mr Keating added: “In our recently updated Vision 2041 masterplan by global experts Bechtel, we set out a roadmap for the estuary as a renewable energy hub of international scale as we set about harnessing Europe’s best wind regime, which exists on the west coast. That’s the prize for this region and for Ireland, one that can transform our economy and our climate change journey.

“We have a lot of work to do to make it happen, not least through investment in road, rail and port infrastructure. However, the backing today from government is a huge and essential statement of intent that we very much welcome.”

The Irish wind energy industry has welcomed publication of the Interim Report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce which highlighted the region’s enormous potential for offshore wind energy.

The report reflected key industry priorities by recommending faster delivery of port infrastructure for offshore renewable energy, more funding for An Bord Pleanála and the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority, and strengthening the electricity grid to accommodate Atlantic offshore wind.

Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said: “The Shannon Estuary has the potential to be one of the cornerstones of European energy independence.

“The enormous offshore wind power off our Atlantic coast will help meet our own energy needs while building a thriving offshore renewable industry which will create jobs, revitalise coastal communities and attract huge investment to the Shannon region.”

Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) has also welcomed the publication of the Interim Report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce.

TUS Dean of Flexible and Workplace Learning Seamus Hoyne is a member of the taskforce made up of industry and academic leaders charged with evaluating the economic development potential of the area, and determining how this potential can be realised in both an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

Congratulating the Taskforce on its work to date and assuring the Taskforce TUS’s support in developing the estuary, President of TUS Professor Vincent Cunnane said, “The objectives of the report are ambitious yet achievable utilising the untapped resources of the Shannon estuary in a practical and sustainable way. It sets out a vision that will maximise the renewable energy resources in the region, both on-shore and off-shore, which will in turn generate significant employment opportunities in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of energy systems while also addressing climate and security of supply issues.

“This plan has the potential to positively impact the communities in this region as the knock-on effects will impact business, regional development, rural sustainability as well as education and research. Our education capacity and Research and Development (RDI) expertise will meet the growing needs of the sector. Our network of experts across Europe through our membership of RUN-EU, also provides us with access to expertise to deliver on the growing needs of our region.”

Meanwhile Mr Hoyne, Dean of Flexible and Workplace Learning said he was delighted to be engaged in the Taskforce and working with regional leaders.

“TUS is ready to support this vision which will benefit not just the region but the country as a whole. We already provide work ready graduates in engineering, environmental science, construction, finance, business and other areas that will meet the skill needs required to make this vision a reality. We also have a proven track record of working with industry, as well as the flexibility and agility required to adapt our programme provision, to meet emerging needs.”

“We are delighted to see the opportunities outlined in the report extend beyond infrastructure and are especially pleased that logistics and tourism have been highlighted as these sectors have significant growth potential.”

Welcoming the publication of the Report, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling said: “The Shannon Estuary holds huge potential, including in the areas of renewable energy, sustainable transport and tourism, that can deliver significant benefits for communities and the economy in the region and beyond. One of the actions identified by the Taskforce through extensive stakeholder consultations, which it will consider further for inclusion in its final report, is the re-establishment of the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) for the Shannon Estuary Working Group, and I have reconvened the SIFP steering group under the chairmanship of Liam Conneally, Director of Economic Development, Clare County Council. The updated SIFP document will inform future marine area policy at local, regional and national levels.”

Clare County Council continues to play an active role in the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce and will assist the Taskforce in every way possible to achieve its objectives, Mr Dowling added.

Liam Conneally, Director of Economic Development, Clare County Council, said: “I welcome the publication of the Interim Report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce, which demonstrates the strategic location of the Estuary in the facilitation of future power generation for Ireland and EU. The hard work and comprehensive consultation that has taken place to inform the Interim Report is evident in the practical actions proposed in the report. I also welcome the next steps proposed by the Taskforce, which are to develop a detailed set of recommendations based on the themes highlighted and to consider possible implementation models including an action plan with timelines for delivery.”

Taskforce member and CEO of The Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine said, “The launch and adoption of this interim report by Government is a significant milestone. The Shannon Estuary presents an opportunity to transform Ireland’s & Europe’s sustainability & growth strategy with huge potential for both offshore & onshore renewable energy.

“The realisation of this vision will provide regional balance, benefiting quality of life, employment opportunities, regional growth, and helping to achieve the national target of reducing transport emissions by 51% by 2030.

“This roadmap also outlines the exciting potential for diverse communities through green-digital economic development, and tourism and leisure for the region.

“Innovation has always been at the heart of our business and The Shannon Airport Group is proud to support this vision through the work of our team, and the valued longstanding partnerships we have with industry across the aviation, property, tourism, energy, and the transport sector.

“Our latest partnership with the ESB on the feasibility of developing a sustainable green hydrogen plant at Shannon, demonstrates our commitment to delivering a better future for all across the region and country. I look forward to working as part of the Taskforce team to finalise the report and help drive this vision forward.”

To read the full statement from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment click here.


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