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Displaying items by tag: Mara

The State’s new maritime area regulatory authority (MARA) will be established and operational from 2023, according to Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan.

He said establishing MARA is “of the highest priority for Government” when he announced consultation on key aspects of the State’s new maritime area consent (MAC) regime for offshore renewable energy.

He said MAC will be a first step in a “new and streamlined planning process”.

Developers who have been assessed for, and are subsequently awarded, a MAC can then proceed to apply for development permission (planning permission), where they will undergo environmental assessment, he said.

This follows the enactment of the Maritime Area Planning Act on December 23rd, 2021.

The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act provides the legal underpinning for an entirely new marine planning system, he said, which will “strike a balance, between harnessing Ireland’s huge offshore wind potential and protecting our rich and unique marine environment”.

He explained that the MAC regime “will assess the viability of proposed offshore renewable energy developers in a number of key areas, including in respect of their financial and technical competency, in advance of developers proceeding to environmental studies”.

“The Maritime Area Planning Act is a transformational piece of legislation,” he said, which “provides regulatory certainty and the legislative underpinning for Ireland to embrace its abundant offshore potential”.

“Under the Act, the creation of a new MAC as a ‘first step’ in the planning process will ensure a fair and robust assessment of potential offshore renewable energy developers,” he said.

“ This will ensure that only the most viable offshore projects will have the opportunity to apply for development permission from An Bord Pleanála. At that point, they will undergo all the necessary environmental assessments,”he said.

“As Minister for the Environment, I will have the responsibility of inviting MAC applications from an initial batch of offshore renewable energy projects,” he said.

This would “represent a significant milestone in realising our ambitious climate targets of 5GW [Giga Watt] of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030 and a long-term plan to take advantage of a potential of at least 30GW of floating wind thereafter”, he added.

“After the assessment and grant of the first batch of offshore renewable energy projects, responsibility will be handed over to MARA, “he said.

This consultation on MAC regime “presents the proposed model for the assessment of the first offshore renewable energy projects”, he said, and “outlines important information on how [it] will operate”.

“Feedback received will help finalise the MAC assessment regime,” he said, with the first such consents expected to be issued in the second half of this year (2022).

The consultation will remain open for a period of four weeks until February 16th, 2022 and can be accessed here

Published in Marine Planning

Today’s launch of the National Marine Planning Framework also brings about the establishment of a new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority to oversee licensing and regulation for offshore renewable energy. But what exactly is MARA?

Functions of the new agency — first announced earlier this year — are detailed in the Irish Independent, which explains that MARA will “issue consents for development-related activities and ensure compliance with new planning laws on the way for marine areas”.

Alongside offshore wind energy projects, MARA will also be charged with policing “water and waste water infrastructure, bridges, marinas, coastal protection works, flood relief works and undersea telecommunications cables and power interconnectors”.

The Irish Independent has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineNotice - Maynooth University will carry out a geophysical research survey off the North West Coast of Ireland from next weekend. 

Work is expected to commence on Sunday 6 May and last for approximately nine days, subject to weather conditions.

The Marine Institute’s research vessel RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN) is scheduled to carry out the works for the Mara survey, undertaken by researchers in Maynooth University to collect geophysical acoustic survey data as well as sediment grab and core samples.

The survey will use relatively low amplitude sound sources to image into the seabed including an echosounder and a sparker system, which will allow for the characterisation of seabed type to inform the deglacial dynamics of the climatically driven British Irish Ice Sheet.

The vessel will, on occasion, be towing a hydrophone cable and other equipment, up to a maximum of 50 metres behind the vessel. The vessel will be restricted in its movements when towing a cable astern.

All other vessels are requested to give the operation a wide berth. The vessel will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Details of the survey area, relevant co-ordinates and contact information are included in Marine Notice  No 19 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Science

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