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Plans to boost tourism and renewable energy at Shannon Estuary

A new plan aims to develop the estuary as a site for renewable energy, tourism, and for cruise ships. Public consultation on the plan begins on 17 December.

NEW PLANS FOR the Shannon Estuary have been unveiled today, with an aim to boosting tourism in the area and making it a hub for renewable energy.

The plans were launched by Jan O’Sullivan TD, Minister of State for housing and Planning, along with the official website that concides with an eight-week public consultation from 17 December to 15 February 2013.

A photography competition has also been launched, where amateur photographers are being encouraged to cover any aspect of life on or adjacent to the Shannon Estuary.

The land and marine-based plan is the first of its type to be developed in the country. The Estuary is Ireland’s premier deepwater port, catering for ships up to 200,000 deadweight tonnage, with key ports at Limerick and Foynes, and is home to a number of large industries and employers,

The Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) identifies nine strategic sites on the estuary, zoned as marine-related industry, industry or mixed use.

There are also two key energy sites, Moneypoint and Tarbert Power Stations, with a number of sites earmarked as opportunity sites for renewable energy.

The plan aims to support the expansion of the electricity gas networks and promote the estuary as a centre of excellence in research and development of renewable energy.

Eight sites for fishing and aquaculture are named in the plan, while the tourism potential of the estuary has also been noted. The plan aims to facilitate the development of Shannon Airport as a major tourist gateway of regional and national importance, and to support the use of the estuary by the cruise ship industry.

Tom Coughlan, Clare County Manager and chairman of the Steering Group overseeing the plan, said that the aim of the SIFP is to identify the nature and location of future development, economic growth and employment that can be sustainably accommodated within the Shannon Estuary.

However, as the estuary is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive and also partly a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds, he noted that “the SIFP will also aspire to achieving a careful balance between promoting development, and protection and conservation of this natural resource”.

Read: Plans to make Shannon a tourist attraction unveiled>

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