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Displaying items by tag: National Marine Planning Framework

Two Irish environmental coalitions are calling on the Government to ensure the necessary Dáil Committee time is given to debating the new Maritime Area Planning Bill.

The Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) and the Environmental Pillar say that Ireland is “marching itself towards widespread obstacles for renewable energy, longstanding depleted marine habitats and compromised coastal communities if it does not immediately change course”.

The MAP Bill, as it is known, is due to begin the committee stage in the Dáil this week, and over 300 amendments have been tabled, they state.

The long-awaited legislation aims to create a new planning and consent system for marine development.

The overall structure was provided by the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) approved earlier this year.

“If the Government railroad this legislation through as is, space for offshore renewables allocation will proceed ahead of the much-needed designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs),” SWAN and the Environmental Pillar state in a joint statement.

“ This means areas that need protection, including our most vulnerable areas, may not be adequately designated, and offshore renewables could be planned for development in environmentally unsuitable areas,” they say.

“ The result being that our vital offshore renewable developments and the health of our essential marine environment will both be put at risk at a time where we cannot afford to do so, “they add.

“Beyond our moral obligations to our marine environment, we are legally obligated to implement a network of MPAs in order to restore our oceans under the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive,” the coalitions explain.

“ Failing to comply with these will have serious consequences, including litigation from non-compliance that will hinder the widespread and effective rollout of decarbonising our energy,” they say.

Birdwatch Ireland policy officer Fintan Kelly, who is part of the Environmental Pillar, said that a “huge amount of pressure in advancing the bill has been applied to facilitate the expansion of offshore renewables in order to meet the Government’s renewable energy targets for the end of the decade”.

“While we recognise the need for offshore renewables, we are concerned that without putting in place key safeguards, the Bill threatens to further degrade our marine environment at a time when we need to urgently restore the health and resilience of marine ecosystems,”he said.

“A short-sighted ‘land grab’ will threaten wildlife, but also our fishing communities that depend on healthy fish and shellfish populations to make a living,” he said.

“What's more, if we fail to address our legal obligations to protect and restore our marine environment, it will likely result in litigation that will delay much-needed offshore infrastructure and result in a lose-lose situation for all involved.

SWAN policy officer Ellen MacMahon said the Government “seems to be forgetting that Ireland was officially one of the first countries to recognise our environmental crisis”.

“The Dáil recognised both a climate and a biodiversity emergency in 2019 - that means both warrant the same degree of action and that neither is pursued at the expense of the other,” she said.

“Additionally, by protecting our oceans we are increasing the amount of carbon they can absorb. This ‘blue carbon’ is carbon that is captured and stored by seaweed and seagrass, seafloor sediment, and even by the wildlife that coast through our waters,” McMahon said.

“We are asking the Government to meet the standard of urgency it set two years ago for both of these emergencies and to make sure we lay a solid foundation now to have the best chance we can at a liveable future,” she said.

Published in Environment

Marine Leisure stakeholders have welcomed the launch of the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) at Dun Laoghaire Harbour today by An Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD and fellow Ministers.

The plan is 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.

The National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) was launched at Dun Laoghaire HarbourThe National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) was launched at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

“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.”

IMF Chairman Paal Janson represented the marine leisure sector on the Ministerial Stakeholder Advisory GroupIMF Chairman Paal Janson represented the marine leisure sector on the Ministerial Stakeholder Advisory Group

"Today is an historic day for marine planning and governance in Ireland. After several years of hard work and much consultation, the National Marine Planning Framework legislation has finally been launched and put into practice", Paal Janson Chairman of the Irish Marine Federation told Afloat.

The IMF represented the marine leisure sector on the Ministerial Stakeholder Advisory Group in drawing up today's framework.

"Our voice has been heard and this is reflected in the published framework document. Our industry now looks forward to having the clarity and certainty which allows it to invest in infrastructure and jobs, where previously this was an unnecessarily complicated and uncertain procedure", Janson said. 

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 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.”

Published in Marine Planning

Commenting on the passing of the legislation for the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) by Dáil Eireann Dr Conor Norton, President of the Irish Planning Institute, described the legislation as “a game-changer for our maritime area.”

“The National Marine Planning Framework represents a comprehensive and integrated system for planning, protecting and managing Ireland’s extensive marine area, our coastal areas, ports and harbours. It provides the framework for the sustainable development of the many and growing range of activities and demands on the marine area, including offshore energy, marine transport, fisheries, tourism and aquaculture.”

Dr Norton added. “The NMPF provides a shared vision and strategy on which decisions on marine developments and activities can be more holistically and objectively assessed and reviewed. The passing of the legislation for the NMPF is a major milestone for planning in Ireland. It is the fruit of a broad and collaborative effort involving government, the various marine sectors and interests, professional bodies, scientists and communities. For the first time, we will benefit from an open and accessible planning system for our marine area, which is integrated with our established planning system.”

Marine planning is a process that brings together multiple users of the ocean to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably. The National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) is the first-ever plan for Ireland’s maritime area, setting out a 20-year vision of how we use, protect and enjoy our seas. Ireland’s maritime area is seven times the size of its landmass.

Planners have long argued that a cohesive and integrated marine and terrestrial spatial planning system is imperative for an island such as Ireland. The sustainable development of competing uses in the maritime environment will require balanced consideration in terms of the associated economic, environmental and social consequences. As Ireland seeks to reach its renewable energy targets use of significant offshore resources will be a major part of this.

Nonetheless, the Irish Planning Institute cautions that the National Marine Planning Framework will place significant resource demand on already over-stretched coastal Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála. The Irish Planning Institute is currently undertaking a major capacity study to analyse the capacity of professional planners across the planning system from planning consultancies to planning authorities and Regional Assemblies to meet the obligations of the National Planning Framework and the National Marine Planning Framework.

“Education and Continued Professional Development for Professional Planners will also be crucial to the successful implementation of this new Framework. The Institute will actively collaborate with Planning Schools and Employers of Planners to ensure its Members are equipped to deliver on the objectives of The National Marine Planning Framework,” Dr Norton concluded.

Published in Marine Planning

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien has been accused of “railroading” the National Marine Planning Framework through the Dáil without pre-legislative scrutiny, as The Irish Times reports.

Opposition TDs say that while they broadly support the framework — which will provide key guidance for planning within Ireland’s marine and coastal areas — they should have more time to scrutinise the 300-page document and explore two specific concerns.

One relates to the fact that the framework would be passed before Ireland’s expanded Marine Protected Area network is fully mapped out.

The other concerns fears among inshore fishing organisations that their livelihoods will be impacted by the development of large-scale offshore wind farms.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Planning

The people of Ireland are being invited to share their views on Irish coastal seascapes.

And the feedback gathered will inform Ireland’s Seascape Character Assessment Report, a key technical study for the National Marine Planning Framework.

The new survey follows an online poll this past summer to help classify and describe the essential character of Ireland’s coastal areas and communities.

The responses gathered have informed a draft assessment on which the Marine Institute is now seeking public input — from today, Wednesday 7 October, to Friday 30 October.

“Seascapes are very much about the relationship between people and place and how humans have settled and interacted in and along our coastline — from the earliest inhabitants on this island right up to today,” said Caitríona Nic Aonghusa, manager of marine spatial planning at the Marine Institute.

“By identifying, classifying and describing our seascape character in a holistic way, we can provide a baseline to better inform the planning and management of our seascapes.”

In addition to the public survey, a series of online workshops will be held for those interested in further discussion of the draft assessment.

These will take place next week, on Monday 12 October from 2pm–3pm and Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 October from 8pm–9pm. To attend any of these online workshops, email [email protected]

And to celebrate and raise awareness of International Landscape Day on Tuesday 20 October, the Marine Institute is also encouraging people across the island of Ireland to share photographs of seascapes on social media.

Post your photos of Ireland’s seascapes on that date on social media with #IrishSeascapes and tag the Marine Institute on Twitter or Facebook.

Published in Environment

A new online survey aims to deepen our understanding of Ireland’s ‘seascapes’.

Commissioned by the Marine Institute, the survey seeks responses from the public that will help identify classify and describe Ireland’s the essential character of Ireland’s coastal areas and communities.

The end results, including a final report and maps, will support the implementation of the National Marine Planning Framework.

“Seascapes are an important part of our sense of identity and culture,” the Marine Institute says. “Our experience of the character of seascapes includes coastal and marine history, folklore, art, nature and recreational and commercial activities that take place on and close to the sea.

“Seascapes can also include views from land to sea, from sea to land and along the coastline. When we describe seascape character, we are essentially talking about a sense of place — what makes one part of our sea and coast distinctive and different from another?

“Often this relates to natural influences such as the rock type, depth of sea and coastline, the force of the sea and how humans have settled and interacted in and along our seascapes – from the earliest inhabitants on this island right up to today.”

Minogue and Associates have been commissioned to carry out the study and get a better understanding of how Irish people value the coast and seas.

The short online survey aims to capture thoughts and comments about the seascapes that you are familiar with, and asks you to indicate on a map where these are. The survey is completely anonymous and the information will be used only to identify draft Seascape Character Areas.

Additionally, the research team hopes to facilitate small, online group-based discussions on the draft areas over the month of July, using online resources. Register your interest (name/interest/organisation) by emailing [email protected]

Published in Coastal Notes

Due to the current situation regarding Covid-19, upcoming public events on the National Marine Planning Framework planned for Kinsale next Monday 23 March and Wexford on Tuesday 31 March have been cancelled.

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government says its Marine Planning Policy and Development team are available via [email protected] to answer any queries in relation to the draft framework.

The closing date for the receipt of submissions for the public consultation on the draft remains 3pm on the Thursday 9 April.

Published in Marine Planning

Public meetings to discuss marine spatial planning and the Government’s draft national framework resume this evening in Arklow, with a focus on offshore renewable energy.

The Arklow Bay Hotel will host the event from 6pm to 8pm, with speakers from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environmental; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI); and Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).

The next event on the calendar is next Monday 17 February, at St Laurence’s in TU Dublin, Grangegorman from 11am to 1pm, with a focus on the marine environment.

Previously postponed events in Killybegs (on fisheries, LYIT School of Tourism), Kinsale (also fisheries, Kinsale Hotel & Spa) and Wexford town (ports and harbours, Wexford Town Library) have been rescheduled for Monday 2 March, Monday 23 March and Tuesday 31 March respectively, all from 6pm to 8pm.

Published in Marine Planning

A number of public events scheduled for later this month and early February on the draft National Marine Planning Framework have been postponed.

Events had been due to take place in Killybegs on Monday 27 January, Wexford town on Thursday 30 January, Bantry on Monday 3 February and Kinsale on Thursday 6 February.

These dates will now be rescheduled between March and April, with locations and times to come.

The current schedule of pubic events on the draft framework resumes on Wednesday 12 February at the Arklow Bay Hotel from 6pm to 10pm.

In addition, the closing date for the receipt of submissions on the draft framework has been extended to Thursday 9 April at 3pm.

Submissions are still welcome and may be forwarded by email to [email protected] or in writing to: MSP Submissions, Marine Spatial Planning Section, Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Newtown Road, Wexford Y35 AP90.

Published in Marine Planning

Sixteen different sectors and activities are within the scope of the draft National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) launched yesterday (Tuesday 12 November).

And plans for a system of designated Strategic Marine Activity Zones among its main ambitions, as previously reported on

Commenting on the draft, Damien English, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, said: “Our ocean supports a diverse range of economic activities such as seafood, tourism, renewable ocean energy and a wide range of recreational opportunities.

“It contains areas with some of the most productive and diverse resources in the world. Its ecosystem and biodiversity make it an environmental and social treasure.

“As our marine and coastal areas experience more pressures from human activity it is critical that we provide a framework for what activities should and shouldn’t happen in our marine and coastal areas.”

The minister notes that a component of the draft NMPF is its policies relating to renewable energy and action on climate change.

He said: “Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. The Government’s Climate Action Plan, published in June, highlighted the critical role of marine planning for the delivery of offshore renewable energy. This document sets out the proposed forward-planning framework within which our renewable energy targets can be met.”

The Climate Action Plan commits to increasing the level of electricity generated from renewable sources to 70%, indicatively including at least 3.5GW of offshore renewable energy.

In addition, the draft NMPF reinforces the Government’s stated commitment to move away from oil combustion within heat and transport sectors towards renewables in the coming decade.

Minister English also launched the Government’s new Marine Planning Policy Statement, which was subject to public consultation this past summer and outlines the Government’s vision for the future development of the marine planning system.

It also sets out the overarching policies and principles the Government says it expects marine planning bodies, and other public bodies that engage with the marine planning system, to observe.

Just as the NMPF will be a parallel document to the National Planning Framework, the Marine Planning Policy Statement is a parallel document to the Planning Policy Statement, which underpins the operation of Ireland’s entire land-planning system.

The minister has invited the public and all interested parties to give their views on the draft framework.

“The document we’re publishing is the culmination of two years of engagement and dialogue with the public and stakeholders and across Government,” he said.

“The very constructive engagement with the NMPF Baseline Report, published last year, has had a major influence on this document. Whether you are in the energy sector, a fisherman, want to protect our marine environment, or live in a coastal community and are concerned about your area’s future, please have your say before February 28th.

“We want the finalised plan to be national in every sense — valued, owned and supported by all. Strong public input will help achieve that.”

The National Marine Planning Framework Consultation Draft is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Planning
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