North Irish Sea Array

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Engagement Area

Project Evolution

Here you will find an outline of information gathered on key areas that have influenced the evolution of NISA’s design and development.

Current Project Stage

The NISA project is currently in the Planning Layout stage based on information gained from recent surveys and engagement.

Formal design reviews are carried out at various stages of the design process. Importantly, these reviews are based on information obtained about different aspects of the project.

Layouts have matured to support submission for the project to An Bord Pleanála in summer 2024. These designs were created based on the results of the extensive surveys that began in 2019 to establish the areas technically suitable/unsuitable for the location of individual turbines and as such, influence the wind farm layouts being considered. 

The potential benefits of NISA to Ireland’s energy security and climate action targets are indisputable. But we also want to ensure that the project can exist in harmony with the area’s local communities, biodiversity, and its landscape.

To that end, we have spent the past several years carrying out a raft of on- and offshore studies, while seeking feedback from the people who will live closest to this proposal. Seabed surveys and consultation with local stakeholders have been a vital part of informing the layout and visual aspect of the project, while we have also investigated any potential impact of the proposal on the people living and working closest to it, as well as the surrounding environment and biodiversity. The results of these findings have been incorporated into the design process.

Seabed Conditions

Offshore surveys were carried out in the proposed area 2022 and 2023. These surveys gathered information on the underlying geological and seabed conditions in a variety of ways such as geophysical surveys, benthic surveys and geotechnical site investigations including cone penetration tests (CPTs) and boreholes.

The results of these surveys indicated that the conditions inside the site boundaries vary significantly. Earlier design layouts being considered for NISA had assumed a high degree of uniformity across the area; however, results from our surveys have provided greater information on the conditions. Securing this information has been critical to allow the design team to work towards establishing the most appropriate design and construction methods for the proposal.

Onshore Site Surveys

The NISA project has undertaken extensive site survey efforts both onshore and offshore to provide vital information regarding the environmental and technical characterisation of the project area. Onshore, NISA have undertaken ecological, archaeological, noise, traffic, and watercourse surveys to survey efforts to inform the landfall location, onshore cable routing and proposed construction methodologies.

The results of these surveys have been incorporated into the design review and will inform the final design and layout of the NISA project.

Environmental Constraints

At an early stage in the development process, all Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA), National Heritage Areas (NHA), Refuges for Fauna and Statutory Nature Reserves in the locality of the proposed site – offshore, along the coastline and onshore were identified.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) being conducted by the project team is considering the potential impacts of the construction, operational and maintenance and decommissioning phases of the proposed development, both on onshore and offshore.

In this proposed project, as with all our sites, we will be working hard to minimise any negative impacts on surrounding areas and seeking to identify opportunities that the project may have to enhance the local environment and biodiversity.

As our understanding of the local area grows, there is always the potential for environmental considerations to alter An example of this is the proposed designation of the Northwest Irish Sea cSPA. This cSPA is proposed for specific bird species which are an integral part of our environment assessment process. Constraints identified are incorporated into the design process as it evolves. This is an ongoing process.

Bird Surveys

Offshore, the NISA survey efforts began in 2019 with ornithology (bird) surveys. Seabirds, migratory birds and intertidal bird species within the project area were identified and counted over a three-year survey period.

Identified species included the Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater, Razorbill, Gannet, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Roseate and Common Tern.

Protecting bird and mammalian habitats is of the utmost importance. The species found in the proposed NISA project area are being carefully assessed to ensure their protection. We will endeavour to ensure that NISA minimises negative impact on the local biodiversity – either onshore or offshore.

Mammal Surveys

Throughout the design process, sustainability has been a key consideration when it comes to every species found within the project area. The marine mammals identified in the proposed area of NISA include whales, seals, dolphins, and harbour porpoises. Other important species surveyed include offshore bats.

Not only will these species be considered as part of the NISA Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process; the presence of these mammals will inform our planned Sustainability Strategy to deliver biodiversity enhancements for the local area over the lifetime of the NISA project.

We want to know how people really feel about NISA. In 2021, we started talking to local communities about the project and since then, our Community Liaison Officer has been working to gather feedback from people living and working in the area. The thoughts of the public on how the project can be delivered suitably and appropriately has been – and continues to be – vital for our work in bringing NISA to life.

Our engagement to date has shown that the need for the development of renewable energy was well-understood. In addition to establishing our project website and hosting in-person and virtual consultations we have gathered valuable feedback. Our project Community Liaison Officer (CLO) Jim O’Reilly has been working to meet with groups and individuals across the area to ensure we provide information and understand any concerns. Below is some of the feedback we have gathered:


What benefits people see

  • Energy Security
    • NISA has the capacity to secure our own energy future and reduce Ireland’s dependence on costly and polluting imported fossil fuels.

  • Climate Action
    • The project will displace around half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

  • Electricity Prices
    • Having our own secure energy supply will shield us from global market energy price increases and continue to help protect families and businesses from the worst effects of a crisis caused by our over-reliance on fossil fuels. We can tap into our own natural resources and roll out clean, affordable energy that will not break the bank.

  • Sustainability
    • It is very important to the NISA team that the project is developed and operates in a sustainable way. NISA will deliver a vast amount of renewable energy on to our electricity grid, providing a sustainable energy future. However, the team is also investigating the proposed project’s capability to deliver broader sustainability objectives through biodiversity, circular economy, and energy initiatives.

  • Community Benefit Funds
    • For NISA, the Community Benefit Fund is expected to amount to more than €4 million per year over the lifetime of the scheme – supporting environmental initiatives, energy efficiency schemes, community projects and the fishing industry.

  • Jobs
    • Offshore wind creates employment opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, construction, scientific research, and electricity generation, with developers providing training to create the high-skilled workforce needed for these projects. Furthermore, the NISA project team is committed to delivering the maximum benefit possible to the local areas from the development and operation of this project. A Business Support Scheme will be developed as part of this project, encouraging local businesses to offer services such as engineering services, hospitality, fuel supply or office space.


Concerns raised

  • Construction phase – onshore
    • Feedback was received on the temporary social impacts on communities and public roads in the form of traffic restrictions and disturbance to residents and road users. We are keenly aware of and wish to minimise any impacts on local communities in the development of this critical infrastructure. Mitigating against impact to communities during the construction phase is a priority for NISA and measures to manage this are detailed in the EIAR. The team continues to engage with local communities to gather feedback to ensure it can be delivered in the most appropriate manner.

  • Distance of turbines to shore
    • Throughout the consultation phase with the community, there were questions as to why the turbines could not be positioned further from the shore. The project team and the community liaison team detailed the survey works that led to the final proposed development layout as well as the technology that was available that would facilitate a fixed bottom foundation suitable for the seabed depth and ground conditions. In order to viably construct an offshore wind farm that has its foundations fixed into the seabed the maximum water depth considered to be feasible is recognised to be approximately 60m. Fixed bottom foundations cannot be located further from the shore, as Ireland’s seabed depth increases very quickly as you move from the shore.

  • Changes to the design and total number of WTGs
    • The most appropriate layouts being presented are based on a number of influences including the ground conditions, site output and the marine environment. Survey works continued since our last consultation event giving us more information on those topics and influenced a further tweak to the layout. Technology in offshore wind is developing faster than it has before. The planning application allows for flexibility for NISA by presenting two layout options. One with 35 wind turbine generators (WTGs) with a maximum tip height of 316m and one with 49 WTGs with a maximum tip height of 290m. This will ensure the project can avail of the most suitable technology at the time of construction.

  • Onshore infrastructure
    • There were also concerns raised about the grid facility which would be located north of Balbriggan, west of the R132. We recognised that this is a new type of infrastructure for the area so measures to screen the infrastructure to minimise any visual impact were displayed as part of the public consultation and on the website.

  • No impact or damage to beaches or coastline
    • Several people expressed concern about the potential impact to the area of coastline in which cables would come onshore. For this project, both open-cut and trenchless drilling methods were considered. Trenchless has been deemed the most appropriate option as feedback from our engagement process was that people would rather not see the coastline disturbed. We are confident that this methodology can be applied.

  • Visuals
    • The visual aspect of NISA has always been a very important consideration. As part of the design process, visual impact assessments were carried out and photomontages of how the proposal will look were prepared.

    • The process for preparing the photomontages is rigorous, scientifically accurate and involves the use of sophisticated software. The turbines are modelled in 3D to their correct dimensions and placed into a digital terrain model of the whole 60km radius study area in their exact positions. The 3D terrain model with the proposed turbines in it are then matched to the baseline photography at each of the viewpoints in a precise 360-degree overlay. They are extremely accurate in terms of location and size and the process does not require any mathematic calculations that could incur errors. It is an industry standard process governed by strict guidelines.

  • Environment
    • Feedback was received regarding potential impacts the project could have on marine life, sea birds and mammals as well as the local environment. The afore-mentioned Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) considers the potential impacts of the construction, operational and maintenance and decommissioning phases of the proposed development, both on- and offshore. In NISA, as with all our projects, we will be doing our utmost to avoid any negative impacts on the surrounding areas while seeking opportunities to enhance biodiversity and the local environment. The project team is considering the sustainability of this project through the various stages of construction and operation with the view to ensuring that the project is delivered in the most environmentally appropriate manner.

  • Community Benefit Fund
    • In the case of the proposed development a Community Benefit Fund could reach approximately €4million each year or €80 million over the lifetime of the project –giving residents the opportunity to bring about transformative and positive change to their local community. The community had questions on the administration and distribution of this fund. In time, an independent Fund Administrator will be appointed to facilitate and support the local community to maximise the opportunities of the Community Benefit Fund. Since 2019, the project team has been engaging with local community groups on the process with a view to aggregating information, feedback and submissions which could guide the direction of the Community Benefit Fund.

The NISA team has carried out extensive engagement with the local fishing community since 2019, at the very early stages of active development of the NISA proposal. Over this time the team have built an excellent understanding of the types of fishing that are carried out in this area which includes both an inshore and offshore fisheries.

The project team have committed to exploring avenues to not only minimise and mitigate any impacts that may come with sharing this marine space, but we have also endeavoured to establish avenues for taking a collaborative approach to delivering mutual and broader benefits. These benefits could potentially not only see collaboration between the generation of renewable energy and the production of an important food source, but also deliver wider marine biodiversity, climate and circularity benefits.

Proactive and constructive engagement with the local fishing community is key to securing the best outcomes and feedback from fishers is central to achieving this.

  • Meaningful Engagement
    • One of the first concerns raised at the outset of our engagement with the fishing industry was that engagement would lack meaning. Over the years the project has had the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to real and meaningful engagement including incorporating feedback from the fishing industry into the design process (ultimately having an influence the proposed wind farm layout), engagement pre, during and post survey campaigns and the proposal of draft initiatives which could deliver benefit to the local fishing community to mention but a few examples. It is the intention to build on this strong engagement foundation as the project progresses.

  • Exclusion Zones
    • In order to address these concerns, NISA is being designed to eliminate any project need for exclusion zones during the operational lifetime of the wind farm. Feedback from the fisheries has been incorporated into the design process and this has influenced the proposed layouts. Feedback sought from governing bodies and organisations has indicated that it is not envisaged that that there will be a regulatory requirement for exclusion zones.

  • Navigability
    • To ensure safe and efficient navigation within and around the NISA wind farm, the project team made several changes to the initial design and layout. The proposed layout provides for c.1km corridors through the wind farm. This will provide better permeability. There remains a concern among some that the location of wind farm will form a barrier preventing the area being fished in the traditional way. The project will continue to engage with fishers around this topic to explore alternative means and methods of fishing the area should this be required.

  • Trawl Direction
    • To ensure that trawling can continue within the proposed wind farm, turbines have been oriented to provide navigable corridors to allow for continued trawling. These corridors have been aligned with the general direction of towing in a SSE -NNW orientation.

  • Impacts on Incomes
    • Not alone is NISA being developed with the fisheries to the forefront of consideration in terms of design, NISA is also seeking to identify areas where there may be impacts on fishing and to take action on these. Since 2019 the project Fisheries Liaison Officer (FLO) has worked to identify all vessels operating in the local area and to engage with those fishing in the local area. The project is endeavouring to bring forward a novel approach towards impact mitigation, focusing on continuing to build a positive relationship with the people whom we know have a tradition of fishing these waters.



The Community Benefit Fund gives power to the people – because it is the local community that decides where the money is spent.

In the case of NISA, the funding would reach approximately €80 million over the lifetime of the project – giving residents the unprecedented and unparalleled opportunity to bring about transformative and positive change to their local community.

Not only would the fund allow communities to develop new and exciting initiatives in their own areas; it would also support existing local amenities and clubs, environmental and energy efficiency schemes, as well as the fishing industry.

Community Benefit Fund

The Department of Environment, Climate Action and Communications published the Community Benefit Funds rulebook for offshore wind energy projects. This confirmed a requirement that generators pay €2 per MWh of electricity generated from offshore wind over the lifetime of the Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS) to a fund aimed at supporting the local areas. As high levels of offshore generation are expected, the amount of funding available for local amenities and clubs could be significant. For NISA, it is estimated that this would be in the region of €4 million per year or €80 million over the lifetime of the scheme.

We have already started to engage with local community groups on the process and we expect several applications to be submitted in the coming months.

Commitment to the local area

Becoming part of a vibrant coastal community is of immense importance to the NISA team. We are proud to support RNLI lifeboat stations along the east coast in Skerries, Howth and Clogherhead.

The team has also supported transition-year students in local schools to participate in Rewrite – a blended learning programme that focuses on existing climate change solutions, future innovations, and opportunities for students interested in the area.

We began our ongoing consultation process approximately in 2021. Our CLO Jim O’Reilly has engaged with a wide range of individuals and groups, including residents, community organisations, sea users, local councillors, and national politicians in the area. The findings of this consultation work are fed back to our design team on an ongoing basis so that they can consider any concerns raised.

To date, our CLO has had over 1,000 engagements with local stakeholders. In addition, he has engaged with people on a personal level to give them the opportunity to properly consider and discuss the proposal. We hosted a series of public consultation events across six coastal communities in June 2023 where we visited Skerries, Balbriggan, Clogherhead, Bettystown, Malahide and Sutton. A Virtual Consultation Room (VCR) was first launched in November 2020 with a second VCR going live in July 2023 and our third VCR is currently live on this site . All of these events were developed and advertised to enable people to learn more about the project and give their feedback.

We hosted our third round of Public Consultation Events in April 2024. We will continue to be available for any enquiries that residents, businesses, and other stakeholders may have via the contact features on this site. Our aim is not just to engage with local stakeholders, but to become part of the fabric of these communities.

© Copyright: North Irish Sea Array Ltd. 2021 - 2024

Photomontage Viewer

The location of each baseline photograph is surveyed to within 10cm of accuracy meaning the photomontages are extremely accurate in terms of location and size of the proposed turbines. These photomontages are created using an industry standard process and governed by very strict guidelines. They have also been peer reviewed as part of the proposed development’s EIA process, with no concerns regarding the validity of the photomontages.