Ballycastle must position itself as hub for Tidal energy jobs

11 06 2014

Tidal Turbine

SDLP Councillor and newly elected Chair of Moyle Council Dónal Cunningham has called for Ballycastle to become the hub for tidal energy research and development.

Speaking after attending a public information event with the Fair Head Tidal Energy Project who are proposing 100MW renewable energy plant powered purely by the tide.

Councillor Cunningham said ,” Tidal energy represents a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable solution to low carbon power generation. We have two significant and exciting projects in the pipeline for the tidal streams off Fair Head and Torr Head, to me it makes real business sense for the area to become a centre for marine energy research, fabrication and deployment supply chain. We need to capitalise on our unique position and natural resources to create jobs and opportunities for the area

“The Fair Head project is being developed by DP Energy and DEME solutions will generate the equivalent electricity to power an estimated 70,000 homes by 2020. The development area is centred approximately 2km to the east of Fair Head off the north Antrim coast and around 1km at its nearest point to land.”

“A lot needs to be done to strengthen our capabilities, Council, DETI, Invest NI all need to work together so that the area can support the growth and the successful delivery of the tidal energy projects and maximise the possibility of jobs which our geographical location should provide us.”



Fair Head Tidal Energy project – public information days

27 05 2014


Please see detail of Public Information days issued by Tidal Energy Project

Public Information Days – Ballycastle 11th June and Rathlin Island 12th June 2014

 As you may already be aware DP Energy (in conjunction with offshore construction company DEME) are proposing to install a tidal generation scheme at Fair Head off the North Antrim coast where the currents are strongest and offers excellent potential for the generation of clean and reliable power. Together we have set up a dedicated project company Fair Head Tidal Energy Park Ltd (FHT) which will evaluate the resource, environmental impacts and engage with stakeholders as we go through the consent process. 

 FHT was awarded an Agreement for Lease from The Crown Estate in 2012 and has already engaged with local stakeholders including those with fishing interests as well as undertaken a number of development activities looking at resource, the presence of marine mammals, sea birds, etc in preparation for producing an environmental impact assessment and report.

 A key part of the development process is, of course, engagement with local people and communities in order to both provide information on the proposal, but also to obtain feedback as part of the assessment and evaluation prior to submitting any formal application for consent. To this end we are hosting two public open days with an exhibition in Ballycastle on June 11th from 2.00pm until 8.00pm and on Rathlin on June 12th from 2.00pm until 4.30pm We will be sharing information on tidal energy in general, as well as site specific information from the surveys we have been undertaking and propose to do in the coming months. The open days will also provide details on some of the tidal turbine technologies being considered, and our current thinking on where the power may be brought ashore. Members of the FHT team will be on hand throughout these events to answer questions and to listen and note any concerns (or voices of support) raised.

 Subject to consents and the availability of grid connection the first stage of the proposal is to install a tidal farm of up to 10MW, comprising between 5 and 10 turbines. This will form part of our European Commission TIDES project intended to demonstrate tidal arrays and would we hope be one of the earliest arrays developed in the UK. The technology for this stage would be Siemens/MCT broadly similar to that deployed in Strangford Lough but we are also considering solutions which are largely sub-sea. The second stage would be more substantial completing the scheme’s 100MW output leading to a potential investment of around £400m, and providing enough to power to supply 70,000 homes.

 We believe tidal energy in Northern Ireland can make an important contribution to meeting Northern Ireland and European climate change and renewable energy targets, as well as providing greater energy security which is becomingly evidently more critical as the current instability in eastern Europe shows just how vulnerable we are to coal, gas and oil shortages. 


Beyond the broader energy aspect there is clearly an opportunity on the back of projects such as Fair Head to expand on Northern Ireland’s early lead in the tidal energy arena (Strangford Lough) and develop direct socio-economic benefits and an export based industry to benefit both the North Antrim area and Northern Ireland as a whole.


The Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has been very supportive of the tidal energy sector and plans and I should also note we have been particularly pleased with the help and support we have received from Northern Ireland agencies in general. In fact we have found from our experiences to date having undertaken public open days in both Scotland and Nova Scotia positivity about tidal energy is something of a common theme.

 Blair Marnie is the Fair Head Tidal project manager;

  • Joris Minne of JPR is managing our communications;  and
  • Clodagh McGrath, Environmental Manager.

Grid infrastructure must support Tidal Energy projects

6 02 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called on the Department Of Enterprise Trade and Investment to support the two Tidal Energy projects off Torr Head and Fair Head by appropriate investment in the grid infrastructure and by working to allow earlier application for grid connection.

Speaking after the two consortia who have been awarded rights to develop the Tidal Energy projects met with Moyle Council, Councillor Cunningham said “Tidal Energy has vast potential and we can all benefit from its use, a significant portion of our energy needs can be met through the use of tidal energy.”

“We need to see more support and greater ambition from all the relevant Government Departments to make this type of alternative energy a reality.”

Tidal energy is considered a more reliable form of power than wind, largely due to the predictability and ever present nature of tidal forces.

Executive must do more for tidal energy sector

20 12 2012

Islay Underwater-tidal-power-

SDLP Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has cautiously welcomed news that two Scottish tidal energy projects will share almost £32 million of European Commission funding.
Councillor Cunningham has called for the Executive to work to progress similar funding for the two tidal energy projects off Fair Head and Torr Head:

“This is great news for the tidal industry off the West Coast of Scotland, but only a few miles away our projects are in still in their infancy, and we need to work harder to progress these.”

“It’s this kind of financial commitment that the Executive needs to be pursuing in order to harness further private investment. If our neighbours in Scotland develop an infrastructure to support the Tidal energy sector, potential benefits for support industries on the AntrimCoast could be minimised.”

Moyle must see benefits of Tidal energy projects

10 10 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the announcement of the successful bidders for the tidal energy projects off Fair Head and Torr Head.
“Tidal Ventures Limited a joint venture between Open Hydro Group, a designer and manufacturer of tidal turbines, and Board Gáis Energy one of Ireland’s leading energy providers received the lease off Torr Head, and a consortium comprising Cork based DP Marine Energy Limited and the Belgian marine engineering company DEME Blue Energy received the lease for the tidal stream energy project off Fair Head”.

Councillor Cunningham commented “These infrastructure projects present a great opportunity for the local economy and community.”
 “I will be requesting that Moyle Council and in particular our economic development department seek early engagement with the successful companies as we are keen to ensure that Moyle fully benefits from the project.
“It is important that Council has its act together as we need to achieve a real economic stimulator in terms of jobs and economic input rather than any short term goodwill gesture form these companies.
“The development of offshore renewable energy provides not only greater energy security and diversity but significant economic and employment and educational benefits.