Taoiseach and Ministers launch National Marine Planning Framework and publish Maritime Area Planning Bill


An Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD and fellow Ministers last week 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.

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 policymakers 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.