Taoiseach and Ministers launch National Marine Planning Framework and publish Maritime Area Planning Bill
An Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD and fellow Ministers today launched the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF), Ireland’s first national framework for managing marine activities.
The framework, which will apply to a maritime area of approximately 495,000km², outlines a vision for how we want to use, protect and enjoy our seas in the years up to 2040.
He launched the NMPF alongside Ministers Darragh O’Brien TD, Eamon Ryan TD and Peter Burke TD at the Commissioners for Irish Lights Headquarters in Dún Laoghaire.
The Taoiseach also confirmed the publication of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021, legislation to manage marine development, which was approved by Cabinet on 29 June.
Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach said:
“As an island nation, Ireland has a special relationship with our coasts and seas.
“The Programme for Government has clear priorities for our maritime area – firstly to create a statutory marine spatial plan, and secondly to bring forward legislation for a new marine planning system.
“I am delighted to officially launch Ireland’s first national Marine Spatial Plan, the National Marine Planning Framework. This provides us, for the first time in our history, with a proper long-term framework for the effective management of marine activities and more sustainable use of our marine resources. It enables us to set a clear direction for managing our seas, and to clarify environmental, economic and social priorities.”
Minister O’Brien will now bring the bill to the Oireachtas to seek enactment. This legislation is critical to ensuring Ireland meets its ambitious offshore renewable targets. The Bill, when enacted, will establish in law a new planning regime for the maritime area. It will replace existing State and development consent regimes and streamline arrangements on the basis of a single consent principle, i.e. one State consent (Maritime Area Consent) to enable occupation of the Maritime Area and one development consent (planning permission), with a single environmental assessment.
The NMPF contains a vision, objectives and planning policies for all marine-based human activities. It outlines how those activities will interact with each other in an increasingly pressured ocean space. It is be the key decision-making tool for Government departments, State agencies, regulatory authorities and policy makers for decisions on marine activities up to 2040. Decisions will include planning applications as well as policies, projects and strategies. The Framework is a parallel document to the National Planning Framework, which guides terrestrial planning and development.
Commenting on the forthcoming Maritime Area Planning Bill, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said:
“My Department is leading an extensive marine management reform programme, the likes of which the State has never seen. The Maritime Area Planning Bill, which Cabinet has approved, is further evidence of this Government’s intent to modernise the State’s approach to marine management. It will represent a giant leap forward towards meeting our ambitious climate action goals and targets.”
Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, who has specific responsibility for marine planning, said:
“The adoption of the NMPF marks an important Programme for Government milestone, delivering on the Government’s long-term commitment to protecting our seas for future generations. With such a diverse range of activities occurring within our marine area, the need for a coordinated and coherent approach to decision-making and governance cannot be emphasised enough.”
Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, said:
“Ireland’s ocean area is home to an amazing array of marine life. Our offshore wind resources are also a wonderful opportunity for us to break free from fossil fuels and reach our ambitious climate goals. My department has been closely involved in the development of this framework and the related legislation, which will create a streamlined planning and consent regime. We are determined that as we develop our resources, we do so in a way that protects and restores our marine environment and its biodiversity. Additional legislation to follow on Marine Protected Areas will be crucial in helping us achieve that.”
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, welcomed the Framework’s role in future development of fisheries and aquaculture licensing:
“As Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, my Department is responsible for sea fishers and Aquaculture licensing. The seafood industry is an important long standing, pre-existing and traditional activity in the marine environment. Therefore, careful planning, including early consultation with and consideration of potential impacts on this sector will be essential to ensuring the ocean economy in all its forms can successfully co-exist and develop under the Plan. Staff from my Department have worked closely with staff in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on this plan and I look forward to working in future with the Department on the establishment of Project Ireland Marine 2040.”
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, welcomed the NMPF’s launch:
“As Minister for Tourism I have a particular interest in how the NMPF will influence the shaping of our marine areas in the future. We all know how important our beaches and marine areas have been for people who have lived near them during the pandemic. Now, with restrictions lifting, more people are looking forward to getting back to the coastline and marine activities. I believe that the National Marine Planning Framework will play an important role in supporting the short-term recovery of tourism. With longer term planning it will have a positive impact on our most significant natural resource, our maritime area.”
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, said:
“Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country for all of its people. The National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, which make up Project Ireland 2040, focus on terrestrial infrastructure. The addition of the National Marine Planning Framework sets out the policies for the sustainable development of our maritime area. This will support business and communities in our coastal areas and is of vital importance to Ireland’s recovery after the unprecedented impact of Covid-19.”