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Department of the Environment

Generators of offshore wind to pay coastal communities 'up to €20 million per year'

Generators will be required to appoint a professional fund administrator, but decision making on the allocation funds is to remain within communities.

COASTAL COMMUNITIES HOSTING offshore wind projects are now set to financially benefit as generators will have to pay them a substantial amount each year, under a new government framework published today. 

The payments will go into “community benefit funds”, and the amount paid will depend on the amount of energy generated. 

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said that “given the anticipated high level of generation” the funds could amount to €4 million per year from a typical offshore wind project and almost €20 million per year from all the projects expected to commence following the first auction for offshore wind under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1). 

The community benefit fund process has been collaboratively developed following extensive consultation with communities and industry, the government has stated. 

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will be providing a critical role in the “monitoring and compliance of funds”. 

The framework follows the launch of the first offshore competition under ORESS 1 in November. Further auctions in the coming years will aim to procure greater offshore wind capacity so that Ireland can reach its 2030 target of 7 GW (1 billion watts). 

Eamon Ryan said that coastal communities will play a “central role in facilitating and supporting the development of Ireland’s offshore renewable electricity ambitions as a vital component in meeting Ireland’s commitments under the 2023 Climate Action Plan.” 

“In addition to jobs, opportunities and businesses offshore wind will help generate on-shore, this community benefit fund ensures that community life and fabric more broadly can also be enhanced and supported,” he added. 

In December Ryan issued Maritime Area Consents (MACs) for the first phase of seven offshore renewable energy projects. 

The Maritime Area Planning Act gave the Minister the powers to assess the first batch of MAC applications while the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority is being established, this includes seven phase one projects: 

The Oriel Wind Park, the Arklow Bank II, the Bray Bank, the Kish Bank, the North Irish Sea Array, the Codling Wind park, and the Skerd Rocks project. 

The “rulebook” for generators published today sets out how they will have to engage with the professional fund administrators that they will be required to appoint. 

It further details how each fund must be established so as to ensure it is representative of the local community including “fishers, seafood culture, tourism in the wider blue economy, and maritime heritage”. 

The fund administrator, appointed by the generator, will undertake the day-to-day operation of the fund “on behalf of the local community”, while decision making on the allocation of funds is to “remain within the community itself”. 

The administrator must, according to the framework, be an incorporated company registered in the EU or the UK. They will also be responsible for appointing a community liaison officer, who has to be ordinarily resident in the locality, and be accessible to members of the community. 

Further information on the framework is available here. 

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