Global firm Clark Hill LLP has set up an offshore-wind practice group at its Dublin offices in Percy Place, Dublin 4.
The unit will serve clients investing in the rapidly growing Irish offshore-wind industry, and steer them, and local communities, through consent and planning bottlenecks.
The Irish Government has committed to consistent 80% renewable-energy production by 2030, and a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030.
The Climate Action Plan will accelerate delivery of 9GW of onshore wind, and up to 7GW of offshore wind, by 2030.
Clark Hill member in charge Kirby Tarrant 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.”
Consultant Aidan Eames said: “Offshore wind projects have a complex journey to conclusion, often taking up to ten 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 adds that, given shortages at An Bord Pleanála, the anticipated surge in applications under the new Marine Area Planning Act 2021 could see an extra two or three years added to an already extended process for completion.
The multi-disciplinary Clark Hill team in Dublin and the US included experienced regulatory, planning, energy, property, commercial, and transport practitioners, who worked together to develop integrated, practical solutions for clients, he said.
Dan Simon of the Washington DC office 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.”
Clark Hill operates in 27 locations with more than 700 lawyers spanning the United States, Ireland, and Mexico.