Clark Hill establishes offshore wind practice group in Dublin

Clark Hill establishes offshore wind practice group in Dublin

Aidan Eames

International law firm Clark Hill LLP has announced the establishment of an offshore wind practice group in Dublin.

Aidan Eames, a consultant in the firm since its merger with Eames Solicitors just over a year ago, is leading the new group, which will serve clients investing in the rapidly growing Irish offshore wind industry and help to steer them through the consenting and planning process.

The Irish government’s climate action plan for 2023 commits to a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, in part through new targets to increase renewable energy generation to 9GW of onshore wind energy and 7GW of offshore wind energy.

Kirby Tarrant, member in charge at Clark Hill Dublin, said: “Currently Ireland generates 30 per cent of its energy from alternative sources, including onshore wind turbines. As an island nation buffeted by winds and the seas on all sides, we are uniquely placed to prosper and to become self-sufficient in energy.

“This offers both opportunity and challenges as Ireland addresses climate change, generates clean electricity and creates jobs. For successful implementation of the climate action plan, a wide range of specialist legal support is necessary.”

Mr Eames said: “Offshore wind projects have a complex journey to conclusion, often taking up to 10 years through consent, planning, survey, design, manufacture, and installation.

“With offshore turbines on the seabed, there are multiple stakeholder groups to be consulted including fisheries, heritage, ecology, military, telecommunications and government agencies. Developers will also have to work with the onshore communities through the complex consenting process for wind energy production.”

He added: “As announcements and investments are made in the area of offshore wind development, the consent and planning process is where the major bottleneck arises.

“At present there is a significant shortage of resources and personnel at An Bord Pleanála to deal with the anticipated surge in applications for planning consents under the new Marine Area Planning Act 2021. This could add up to two or three years to an already extended process for bringing these major offshore wind projects to completion.”

The new wind practice group will also draw on expertise in the wider Clark Hill network which includes 26 offices across the US and Mexico.

Dan Simon, partner in the Clark Hill Washington DC office and member of the offshore wind practice group, said: “Coastal communities and other stakeholders need to be consulted and buy into the offshore wind energy programme.

“There is a significant consultation process and community gain required in this area. Clark Hill is already in discussions with some of those communities and agencies to ensure the process goes smoothly.

“This helps understand all perspectives and identify potential objections before they arise, so that they can be addressed professionally, practically and with expedience.”

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