NI coast 'not suitable' for offshore wind farm

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Industrial wind turbine close up in seaImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The UK is a world leader in offshore wing and the cost of the technology has fallen in recent year

Northern Ireland's coastline is not suitable for off-shore wind farm development due to likely objections to how they would look.

The findings were included in Department of Economy report.

It said the "visual impact" to potential sites based within 13km of the shore would be a "significant issue".

As a result, NI has been excluded from a 2019 leasing round by the Crown Estate which controls the seabed.

However the report says offshore wind may be a possibility in the future if technology changes and things like floating wind platforms come on stream.

The UK is a world leader in offshore wind and the cost of the technology has fallen in recent years.

The east coast from Carlingford Lough to Belfast Lough was considered for potential leasing and was rejected.

"The modelling found that there were significant challenges which even with mitigation, mean that the conditions are not yet right for fixed foundation offshore wind development around NI's coastline," reads the report.

"The primary criteria used to assess this suitability is that 99% of the NI characterisation area is within 13km of the coast and is therefore restrained by risk and uncertainty associated with visual sensitivity from shore."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The report does not rule out the possibility of offshore wind farming in the future, depending on advances in technology

The assessment also concluded that disturbance to sensitive protected sites and species along the coast might present difficulties when it came to the cables necessary to get the power ashore.

There was a proposal for a wind farm off the County Down coast back in 2014 but it was dropped.

The report reveals that the future of a potential wave energy project off Torr Head in Co Antrim is also unclear after the company, Tidal Ventures Ltd which was granted a marine licence, was dissolved earlier this year.

A separate tidal project off Fairhead in Co Antrim, is still being considered for a marine licence.

It met some objections because of plans to bring cables ashore close to Murlough Bay, a protected area, and the fact that some of the infrastructure would be visible above the surface.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs wrote to the company which has suggested some amendments to address the concerns.

A fresh marine licence application will be necessary to progress the changes, but that has not yet been received.