The Government has fast-tracked the development of seven off-shore wind farm projects as part of its goal of significantly increasing renewable energy generation over the next decade.

The projects, which are being planned by five different firms, have been designated as 'Relevant Projects', which will ultimately allow them to apply under upcoming marine planning rules.

The developments approved include two projects by Innogy Renewables, two projects by Codling Wind Park, Oriel Wind Park, Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta and North Irish Sea Array Ltd.

Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton made the announcement this morning.

The Irish Wind Energy Association has welcomed the move, which it says will "energise Ireland's offshore wind industry and puts us on the path to achieving our 2030 targets for offshore wind."

The Government is currently aiming to have 70% of the country's energy coming from renewable sources by 2030, part of which will see offshore wind capacity increase to 3.5GW.

Chair of the National Offshore Wind Energy Association said the projects in question "are all now focusing on accelerating preparatory work.

"That includes in particular activities such as foreshore licencing and grid connection.

"Each project will also be concentrating on working with local communities and fishermen along the east coast to make sure they are involved and consulted with at all stages of development of the projects."