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Clark Hill Launches Offshore Wind Practice Group in Dublin

February 7, 2023

International law firm, Clark Hill LLP, has announced the establishment of an Offshore Wind Practice Group at its Dublin offices. The practice will serve clients investing in the rapidly growing Irish offshore wind industry and steer them, and local communities, through the potential bottleneck involved in the consenting and planning process.

With global commitments towards decarbonisation and alternative energy use, the Irish government has committed to consistent 80% renewable energy production by 2030. The Ireland Climate Action Plan 2023, published last December, commits to a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030. The Plan further commits to facilitating a large-scale deployment of renewables that will be critical to decarbonising the power sector as well as enabling the electrification of other technologies. The Climate Action Plan will accelerate the delivery of onshore wind and offshore wind to deliver 9GW of onshore wind and up to 7GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Kirby Tarrant, Member in Charge at Clark Hill Dublin explains, “Currently Ireland generates 30% 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.”

Aidan Eames, Consultant at Clark Hill, says, “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.”

Eames goes on to say, “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.”

Clark Hill in Dublin and in the US is a multi-disciplinary team who helps companies navigate through the consent process, mitigate the risk of legal challenge, and accelerate the journey. Our team includes experienced regulatory, planning, energy, property, commercial, and transport law practitioners who work together to develop integrated, practical solutions for our clients.

Dan Simon, a partner in the Clark Hill Washington DC office and member of the Offshore Wind Practice Group says “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.”

Beyond guiding clients on developing and constructing offshore wind projects, Clark Hill is vastly experienced in industries that confront many of these legal challenges, including offshore oil and gas, construction, transportation logistics, and customs. Clark Hill offers a full-service Irish law practice based on Percy Place, Dublin 4, with experience in advising European and U.S. clients doing business in or through Ireland, and Irish clients doing business in the U.S.

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