Galway East TD and Minister for Rural Affairs Seán Canney has welcomed the publication of the Draft National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF).
Minister Canney, who is chairperson of the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) Taskforce, said: “The framework outlines the Government’s proposed approach to managing Ireland’s marine activities and ensuring the sustainable use of marine resources to 2040.
“This aligns closely with the integrated approach taken by the AEC which co-ordinates strategy for counties along the Atlantic seaboard.
“Both the NMPF and the AEC are sharply focused on the marine opportunities for the fisheries, tourism, telecommunications, energy, ports, harbours and shipping sectors.
“The framework also supports Climate Action measures for offshore renewables like wind energy, while sustainability is factored into all the proposals.
“Ireland’s maritime area is seven times the size of its land mass and its 7,500 kilometres of coastline is longer than most other European countries. It is vital that we seize the opportunities that these natural resourcespresent.”
The consultation, which ends on February 28 2020, includes a series of public meetings, including one at the Connaught Hotel in Galway on December 2.
It is expected that the final NMPF will be adopted in late 2020.

Key elements of the draft NMPF:
o Integrated marine planning system: the draft framework sets out details of the
Government’s vision for an integrated marine planning system with distinct forward planning,
development management and enforcement components. This will be implemented, in part,
through new legislation to modernise elements of the marine development management and
enforcement systems. It will provide for:
o Statutory marine planning guidelines and an enhanced statutory basis for marine
forward planning
o A single State consent system for the entire maritime area, replacing foreshore leases
and licenses, which are limited to the territorial sea
o Elimination of unnecessary duplication of development management processes
(including environmental assessments) for activities or developments that are
currently assessed under both the foreshore and planning regimes
o A single development management process for the maritime area for activities and
developments – to be administered by An Bord Pleanála/local authorities, as
appropriate – to development type and location
o Provision for strengthened enforcement and compliance of State consents and
development management

• Climate change and offshore renewable energy: Among the framework’s planning
policies is that preference will be given to proposals for offshore wind farms (including
enabling projects and infrastructure) in areas identified as designated zones for offshore
wind, under the zoning process to be set out in the Marine Planning and Development
Management Bill.
The framework contains a number of Overarching Marine Planning Policies aimed at
requiring marine regulators and decision-makers to take account of climate action when
considering any proposal for marine use or activity (including, for example, ports
development, aquaculture, shipping etc.).
• The draft NMPF reiterates the Government’s Climate Action Plan commitment to a major
shift away from oil combustion within heat and transport sectors towards renewables in the
coming decade. The Government has accepted the advice of the Climate Change Advisory
Council. It stated that the exploration for and recovery of new offshore oil reserves is not
compatible with a low carbon transition. The council further advised that the continued
exploration for and extraction of new offshore natural gas reserves can be compatible with a
low carbon transition.
• Gas is considered to be a transition fuel. This is particularly the case for Ireland, where we
do not have nuclear power, hydro power at scale or geo-thermal power, which other
countries can use to provide back-up when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
Therefore, it appears that gas, as the lowest emitting fossil fuel, will provide the best
electricity back up in 2030 when we reach 70% renewable electricity. The Minister of State
for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development Seán Canney,
T.D., will commission an Energy Sustainability and Security Review that will consider the
role of fossil fuels during the transition. It will also consider the role that other technologies
can play.
• The framework outlines the Government’s recognition of the need for environmental and
other impacts of offshore renewables to be managed in line with international obligations
and best practice to support maximum social acceptance.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of
Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other stakeholders will develop
statutory marine planning guidelines to support best practice throughout the planning
process for offshore renewable energy. It will include the development of a specific
visualisation assessment in relation to design and layout of proposed developments.
Visualisation assessments must demonstrate consultation with communities that may be
able to view any future offshore renewable energy development at a given site with the aim
of minimising impact.
• Regional/sub-national marine plans: The draft NMPF is currently presented as a single
plan covering Ireland’s entire maritime area. However, the Government is committed to the
preparation of regional or sub-national plans in future planning cycles. These would have a
more local character and could be potentially more empowering for coastal communities
throughout Ireland. At least three regional plans will be developed. Together national and
sub-national plans will be known collectively as the NMPF.

For more information, contact Minister Canney on 086-2513639
November 12 2019