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Fishermen deserve say in location of offshore wind farms, argue MEPs

Fishermen must have a say in the location of offshore wind farms, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said on Wednesday.

Building offshore wind farms can have a severe negative impact on marine life and fisheries, according to a report from MEPs, who want the EU to safeguard fishermen’s livelihoods.

A majority of them voted for a resolution calling for fishermen and other interested parties to be allowed take part in decisions on locating and building wind farms.

They highlight that coastal and small-scale fisheries, which account for 80 per cent of all EU fishing vessels, suffer particularly from the construction of wind farms in the sea.

Offshore wind is a key part of the Republic’s efforts to cut green house gas emissions and hit climate change targets.

Multinational energy companies plan to invest billions of euro in building wind farms in the Irish Sea in coming years.

SSE Renewables, part of the group that owns Airtricity, recently said it could spend up to €6 billion on developments off the east coast.

Compensation

Norway’s Statkraft, Germany’s Innogy and State-owned ESB all began planning offshore wind farms close to Dublin in recent years.

The European Parliament wants member states to compensate fishing vessel owners whose livelihoods are affected by wind farms and ensure that those that operate near these electricity plants can get insurance.

MEPs are also calling for more research into how to avoid and mitigate negative effects on the sea basin.

They believe member states should ensure that wind farms are placed away from fishing grounds and only built where they are guaranteed not to have negative environmental, ecological or social consequences.

Other systems, such as floating wind, hydrogen and solar energy could be more appropriate for areas where fishing takes place, the European politicians say.

Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen pointed out that fishermen were the oldest users of the sea.

“They earn their living on the water and it is therefore only logical that this sector should be given a decisive voice in the form of an effective participation, more than just a consultation,” he said.