Seven offshore wind farms will enter the planning process after the summer

Seven huge wind farms proposed for waters off the Irish coast will be allowed to apply for planning permission from this autumn.

ix of the developments would result in wind turbines being placed almost continuously along the east coast from Co Louth to Co Wicklow.

Another is proposed off the coast of Co Galway.

They are the first in a series of new offshore wind farms that the country will rely on to transition from reliance on fossil fuels to green energy over the next decade.

These seven are at the most advanced design stage among a larger group of potential projects.

They are to be asked to apply for a new permit system called Maritime Area Consents from April.

To obtain consent, each project and its funders will need to pass a preliminary assessment of the physical plans and their integration into climate action policies, their financial situation and their business context.

The assessment will be carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Communications.

With consent, they can then apply directly to An Bord Pleanála for a new type of building permit, called a development permit.

According to the schedule currently envisaged, the authorizations should be granted at the end of the summer or the beginning of the autumn and the applications for authorization will then be opened.

Future permit applications from other wind developers will be handled by a new body, the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority, due to be created early next year.

Projects include the Oriel Wind Farm off Co Louth; the North Irish Sea Array, which will stretch along the coasts of Louth, Meath and Dublin; and the Dublin Array, which comprises two parts, the Kish and Bray projects, which will stretch from Dublin Bay north to Co Wicklow.

The Codling project will follow, with twin developments off Greystones and Wicklow town. The Scierde Rocks project is proposed for the waters off Carna, Co Galway.

Together they propose to provide enough wind-powered electricity to supply every home in Ireland with energy to spare.

Details of proposed timelines for the consent and development application stages are contained in documents developed by the Department for public consultation.

Citizens have until February 16 to submit their views.

Louisa R. Loomis