SSE Renewables is to apply for permission to build its wind park off the Wicklow coast under a new planning system, in a move that will allow it to increase the power generation output capacity significantly.

The Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 project was originally expected to produce 520MW each year, but that will now increase to 800WM, if the plan gets the go-ahead under the new Maritime Area Planning Act.

It was introduced by the Government in December, replacing the Foreshore Act with a new marine planning process.

Earlier this week the Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, invited applications from the first batch of offshore wind projects for Marine Area Consents (MAC).

Developers must have a Maritime Area Consent to make an application for permission, to include environmental assessments, to An Bord Pleanála.

SSE had been developing the project through the Foreshore Act, but is now to transfer it into the MAC regime.

That will allow it to substantially increase the capacity of the new wind park by 280MW, it claimed.

However, it will have to prepare a new Environmental Impact Assessment for the project's offshore infrastructure.

"SSE Renewables is totally committed to Arklow, to County Wicklow and north Wexford, and to the Arklow Bank Wind Park project," said Barry Kilcline, Director of Offshore Development Ireland at SSE Renewables.

"We expect to be able to invest around €2.5 billion in the revised project to deliver a new 800MW offshore wind farm by 2028 which will produce substantially greater power generation output at Arklow Bank than under our previous plans.

It is expected that it will be completed by 2028, provided permission is granted and the construction goes to plan.

The company still intends to use Arklow Harbour’s South Dock for its operations and maintenance base.

80 people will be employed in supporting the wind park.

The Arklow Bank Wind Park is one a series planned by a number of different developers along the east coast for the coming years.