Belfast Telegraph

Fair wind for offshore energy is projected

By Clare Weir

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has launched a document containing plans for Northern Ireland's offshore renewable energy sector over the next decade.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan (ORESAP) contains plans to harness opportunities and address the challenges of offshore development.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has also established an Offshore Renewable Energy Forum involving other marine sectors such as fishing and environmental interests to advise it in the implementation.

A joint approach is key, said Minister Foster. "Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland, an opportunity to contribute to our challenging renewable energy targets and build new industries to serve this growing offshore market," she said.

"I am keen that all sectors appreciate and realise the benefits that these activities can provide. We will aim to strike a balance between economic, social and environmental needs as we take forward the plan.

"The first Northern Ireland Offshore Renewable Energy Leasing Round is well under way with the prospect of The Crown Estate offering development rights by autumn 2012 for offshore wind and tidal projects. Such projects will not only contribute to the Executive's target of 40% renewable electricity by 2020 but will develop further in the period 2020-2030."

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