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Public Consultation on Marine Planning Policy Statement

On behalf of the Government, the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., and the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, T.D., launched the draft Marine Planning Policy Statement (MPPS) at the Our Ocean Wealth summit in Cork on 10 June. The policy statement is a true recognition of the importance of a fully integrated marine planning system across all aspects of marine forward planning, marine development management and marine planning enforcement.

The MPPS:

  • Describes the existing components of Ireland's marine planning system;
  • Outlines a vision for the future development of our marine planning system;
  • Sets out the overarching policies and principles the Government expects marine planning bodies and other public bodies that engage with the marine planning system to observe (in terms, for example, of public engagement, transparency, governance, environmental assessment, climate action, social and economic benefit);
  • Sets out high-level priorities for the enhancement of the marine planning system in Ireland.

The Irish land planning system has clearly defined forward planning, development management and enforcement components. The planning system is operated in the main by regional and local government, An Bord Pleanala, the Office of the Planning Regulator and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The marine planning system is less evolved. However, a number of initiatives are under way that will radically transform and modernise Ireland's marine planning system so that it is more integrated, fully plan-led, clearly structured and user friendly for all marine stakeholders.

The introduction of a new national marine plan - the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) will be a critical part of effecting this transition, as will be the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, (formerly known as the MAFA Bill) which Government intends to publish the revised General Scheme shortly. This Bill will:

  • Introduce powers for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to put in place statutory marine planning guidelines (parallel to statutory planning guidelines under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000);
  • Provide an enhanced statutory basis for marine forward planning;
  • Introduce a single State consent system for the maritime area for certain project types;
  • Eliminate the unnecessary duplication of development management processes (including environmental assessments) for activities or developments that are currently assessed under both the foreshore and planning regimes; and
  • Introduce a single development management process for certain project types, including offshore renewable energy development. 

By bringing together these elements of forward planning and streamlined development management and enforcement, this new legislation will be a cornerstone of the future marine planning system in Ireland, including the marine development management processes that currently come within the remit of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The integration of environmental, economic and social considerations is being highlighted in the MPPS as a key strategic principle for the marine planning system. The obligation to achieve or maintain good environmental status (GES) under the MSFD and obligations under other environmental laws such as the Water Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats Directive can be supported through a well-functioning marine planning system. It will also be a key enabler of Ireland's ability to deliver on our obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and OSPAR Convention, our climate change and renewable energy targets, and on future ports development.

Speaking today at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., welcomed the Marine Planning Policy Statement.  He recalled that an overarching national marine spatial plan, underpinned by an efficient planning and licensing framework, was identified as a key priority in the Harnessing our Ocean Wealth Report launched by the Tánaiste in 2012.  He also looked forward to the new Maritime Jurisdiction Bill, the General Scheme of which was approved by Government last month.  The Tánaiste will introduce the Bill in the Oireachtas in the autumn.  It will complement the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, work on which is also well advanced.  The Tánaiste said that “the Marine Planning Policy Statement is an important step in developing the National Marine Planning Framework.  Taken together the plan and the two Bills will provide the comprehensive and efficient framework for offshore development identified by Harnessing our Ocean Wealth.” 

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., said that the statement reflected “the holistic approach to terrestrial and marine planning that I and my Department are leading. Through this policy framework as well as the National Marine Planning Framework and Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, Minister English and I are working to ensure the proper integration of environmental, economic and social considerations in marine decision-making processes that serve all interests fairly.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, welcomed the MPPS and stated that “the marine planning system will support the maintenance and sustainable development of our seafood industry, particularly in recognition of our strong fishing heritage and its contribution to sustainable coastal and island communities. My Department will continue its active engagement with all other stakeholders as the MPPS develops”.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, T.D., highlighted the key role the marine planning system will play in the years ahead in enabling Ireland meet its renewable energy targets and make Ireland more climate resilient, assisting the transition to a low carbon economy.

In his speech at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, Minister English said that "with these key reforms under way, our vision for an integrated, holistic marine planning system in Ireland is for a system with clear forward planning, development management and enforcement elements that promotes and sustains ocean health, and supports the sustainable (recreational) enjoyment, management and use of Ireland's marine resource. The MPPS serves as a parallel to the 2015 Planning Policy Statement, which underpins the operation of the entire land-planning system in Ireland. It applies to all facets of marine planning and all bodies that have a role in marine planning. It is being introduced now on a non-statutory basis, pending the introduction of legislation in 2020 that will provide for the preparation, adoption and review of statutory marine planning policy statements on six-yearly cycles. It reflects the comprehensive updating and renewal of Ireland’s marine planning policy, setting out core principles to inform evolving marine planning and development management process”.

The draft MPPS is being launched today for a 2 month consultation process concluding on Friday 9 August. Details for submission of comments are below.

Notes:

The draft Marine Planning Policy Statement will be available from midday, 10 June 2019 on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (www.housing.gov.ie) and via twitter (@MSP_Ireland). Submissions are invited either in writing to the correspondence address below or to msp@housing.gov.ie. A Privacy Statement can be found alongside the MPPS. This explains how the Department, as the Data Controller, will process the personal data provided to it in respect of submissions made during this public consultation, how that data will be used, and what rights people may exercise in respect of their personal data.

The consultation period closes at midday on Friday, 9 August.

Dáta Foilsithe: 
Monday, 10 Meitheamh, 2019