The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is proposing to add the testing of floating offshore wind (FOW) technologies to the existing lease at AMETS, currently consented for testing wave energy conversion technologies. BlueWise Marine is assisting SEAI by leading the local stakeholder management.
AMETS is located off Annagh Head, west of Belmullet in County Mayo. The test site consists of two test areas suitable for trialing a range of marine renewable energy technologies. Its geographic location with deep waters and a harsh environment makes AMETS particularly suitable for the testing of wave energy and floating offshore wind technologies.
To date, the Environmental Impact Assessment scoping report, prepared by RSK Environmental Ltd., was published and has received feedback from national and local stakeholders. The next step after scoping is the production of the EIA Report (EIAR), which will also be formally consulted on during the statutory consultation period. At this stage members of the public and other stakeholders will be invited to formally make submissions on the contents of the EIAR.
BlueWise Marine is supporting the development of AMETS with stakeholder engagement services, a critically important stream of work for the test site to succeed. Public engagement ensures the decision-making is equitable, fair and more informed, ultimately, leading to higher quality outcomes. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the proposed development will help to build trust with the local residents, fishing community, schools, local businesses, community groups and other interested parties.
Our stakeholder engagement work at AMETS
As part of this work, BlueWise Marine developed a Stakeholder Management Plan which included a map of stakeholders, outlined management roles, responsibilities, strategies, and described how the plan will be delivered.
In parallel to this, BlueWise Marine team also developed a Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Strategy to support effective dissemination to and communication with identified stakeholders and target audiences about the current plans for AMETS.
Local stakeholder engagement
Working in collaboration with the SEAI Communications team, our approach blended traditional and digital methods, including dissemination by the means of local radio, locally read newspapers, social media channels and through advertisement in local shops and amenities.
The implementation of the communications and stakeholder management efforts included a ‘Public Information Drop-in Day’ in Belmullet on June 23, 2022, coordinated and delivered by our team. The event informed the community about:
- SEAI’s intention to expand the scope of AMETS to include FOW technology testing
- information on what FOW technology is and why its development is important for Ireland’s future energy needs
- the environmental consenting process that the SEAI is undertaking to include FOW technology testing at AMETS
- how the public can participate in this process, where they can find more information and how they can submit feedback
The event took place at a local venue and used a series of digital information displays to aid understanding and visualise the developments at AMETS. This provided attendees with the opportunity to view and discuss the EIA scoping information and the plans for the test site development with members of the delivery team. The material for these digital displays is also available to download in PDF format here.
To strengthen the outreach, BlueWise assisted in the production of an ‘Information booklet’ in both Irish and English languages, which was made available in hard copy at the event and digitally via the Ocean Energy Ireland and SEAI websites. The booklet contains information about the AMETS activity to date, examples of technologies that could be tested at AMETS, key environmental considerations within the EIA scoping and outlined the next stages of the EIA process.
The EIA process has now moved on to the next stage, and plans are underway for a second event that will be held upon publication of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report in 2023. Please, visit the Ocean Energy Ireland website to see some of the outputs prepared by BlueWise Marine on behalf of the SEAI.
Do you need support with stakeholder engagement efforts at your offshore or marine renewable energy project? Get in touch!