Codling will be the largest windfarm in Ireland with twice the power of Moneypoint, the largest thermal station. It will be very visible from the coast from Greystones to Newcastle & Wicklow Town. It is essential that the area is made feel connected and involved with the project via jobs, information, tourism, boat movements & trade.
I have spoken, in September 2020, at some length to Sally Shenton, Manager Base Selection and shown Erlend Christiansen and Paul Concannon around Greystones Harbour and its facilities. It is the safest harbour on the East coast with guaranteed depth 5m all tides, 24/7 access, very calm in storms, close to windfarm, capacity for a number of service vessels. It is short of space to put a warehouse, however I believe it could offer many useful services to the project. The marine aspects are in place now unlike many other harbours. A number of minor changes may be needed, as detailed later, but it is important that a number of boats use it so the town feels connected to the visually intrusive project.
Interpretative Centre, boat visits and information
At an early stage an Interpretive Centre should be established, preferably in the vacant building in the marina which has sight of the windfarm and was visited by the Codling team. This could be an education facility for inspiration for schools, groups, open to tourists and is on the busy Boardwalk & Cliff Walk, close to the DART & Aircoach from the airport. Careers should be mentioned.
This should have boat visits to the site which will need some subsidy. Possibly these could use crew transfer vessels or others as in Brighton marina. The Interpretive Centre for the much smaller Rampion project, off Brighton, is a good example in a similar socio economic area. Also a similar distance off shore. They place explanation boards and telescopes in various places along the coast which should be done from Bray Head to Wicklow Town.
Another relevant example is the Sheringham Shoal visitor centre also on the seafront.
A similar centre in Greystones would link the town to the windfarm as well as generating acceptance, interest and tourism.
Some items from Greystones Public Realm Plan would be relevant.
Cairn are to build a commercial estate in the town which could be used by contractors.
Facilities available at the harbour and surrounding area.
· Boatyard. Could have some space for storage. Cranes could be strengthened.
· Marina 230 berth. Could take multiple Crew Transfer vessels now. Probably better to reconfigure into a specific area, leaving the majority of space for leisure boats.
· Depth. 6m at Low Water at harbour entrance. Some berths are 5m, the deepest marina on the East Coast.
· Interpretive Centre/Offices above marina building. Each floor 24*7m. On top floor this includes balcony. Sight to windfarm, empty now.
· Car Parking. 200 to 300 public spaces in development set at hourly rates. 20 to 40 could possibly be made available. Also possibly available at Beach House and YWCA in harbour area.
· Fuel tanks are available under the public square but not used at present. Could be brought into use with suitable arrangements.
· Accommodation. Coolnagreina at the harbour has 24 modern en-suite rooms built to 4 star standard. Can accommodate 60 people, has conference facilities for 40/50 and good parking. Food is by arrangement
· Slievemore B & B at harbour
· Over 100 apartments are available to rent at Marina Village which could be useful for crew and commercial units are to be built.
The harbour is immediately useful to the project. Changes as suggested could probably be made but would need a use commitment as there is a cost of the changes both financial and maybe in other people not using those spaces. The benefit would need to include the jobs this would bring as well as a sense of connection for the town to this large environmentally positive development which we will see as the closest town. Use as an occasional ‘overflow’ would be unlikely to justify changes.
It would also be useful to establish apprentiships in turbine & electrical work and take people from local schools.