Wind farm developer concerned at lack of An Bord Pleanála marine expertise

Lack of board resources ‘genuine risk to the delivery of the project’ to meet climate targets, developers of State’s largest wind farm say

Developers behind the State’s largest offshore wind farm, which is expected to provide electricity for 1.2 million homes, have raised concerns about the lack of specialist resources in An Bord Pleanála to deal with their application.

Renewable energy companies EDF and Fred Olsen plan to develop Codling Wind Park, a €2 billion project featuring up to 100 turbines, at 13km-22km off the east coast between Greystones and Wicklow town. The wind farm will also require an onshore substation at the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin to connect to EirGrid’s network.

The group hopes to lodge a planning application for the development in the coming months but has told Dublin City Council the lack of expertise in An Bord Pleanála poses a “genuine risk to the delivery of the project” within the timescales necessary to meet climate targets.

Codling is the largest of seven proposed offshore renewable energy projects given maritime area consent last December by the Government, which allows them to enter into the pre-planning stage. The State has a target of having 80 per cent of electricity generated from renewable energy by 2030. Currently some 33-34 per cent of electricity comes from renewables, with Codling promising to make up 20 per cent of the gap.


The developers have already started the pre-planning process and hope to lodge a planning application this year, with a view to starting construction in 2026 and operations by 2028 to help meet the 2030 target.

However, Fiona Campbell, onshore consents manager for Codling, told the council’s environment committee there were serious concerns about the ability of the board to process the application in time to meet these targets.

“An Bord Pleanála is in a difficult position, they are under-resourced and without marine experience at the minute,” she said. “Although they are doing their best, as far as we understand, to recruit and to bring people on board to deal with these applications.”

Codling and the other projects given maritime consent last December had been “lobbying fairly significantly now for a couple of years” to have the resources to deal with the forthcoming applications dedicated to the planning board.

“It is a major consideration for the project. We are concerned about the inability to be able to determine these applications in good time, because we expect the rest of the phase-one projects will also want to enter the system around about the same time,” she said, adding that it was impossible to tell if the project timeline was “in any way realistic”.

“We have loads of advisers, as you can imagine, we have legal teams, planning teams, who have long experience with An Bord Pleanála, but it is all just a bit of an unknown and it is a genuine risk to the delivery of the project in our timescales but it is largely outside our control. We are doing as much as we can to try to influence it, but we are going to be at their mercy largely.”

A spokeswoman for An Bord Pleanála said a new marine unit had been established and a director of planning, marine and climate had been appointed. She said the board “intends to establish a panel of qualified consultants to advise on appeals and applications” and was advertising these roles.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times