Government releases draft National Marine Planning Framework for Consultation
The Government has published a draft of the first ever National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) for consultation. The NMPF is the maritime equivalent of the National Planning Framework, and outlines the Government's proposed approach for:
- Managing activities in Ireland's 'maritime area' (covering national waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf)
- Ensuring sustainable use of marine resources to 2040
The NMPF forms part of the Government's comprehensive overhaul of the legislative and policy framework for the maritime area, and is one of the 'Actions' identified in the Climate Action Plan 2019. Related workstreams in this area include:
- Progression of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill (MPDMB). The Heads of Bill for the MPDMB have been released, with publication of the Bill expected by the end of Q4 2019
- Implementation of the Marine Planning Policy Statement (MPPS), released on 12 November 2019, which the Government consulted on earlier in 2019. The MPPS outlines a vision for the future development of the marine planning system, and sets out overarching policies and principles for decision-makers in this area
What does the NMPF do?
The NMPF covers all marine-based activities, arranged into 16 general categories. These include:
- Aquaculture and wastewater treatment
The NMPF establishes objectives and planning policies for activities within each category.
Those objectives and policies will guide all future decision-making in relation to marine activities, including planning applications, policies and plans. In fulfilling such functions, decision-makers will be required to support and implement the provisions of the NMPF once it comes into effect.
Key features of the NMPF include:
- More detailed proposals to modernise the marine development and enforcement system, including creation of a comprehensive consent system for the entire maritime area under the MPDMB, which is currently limited to foreshore leases and licences within national waters. As currently envisaged, the new consent system will require offshore activities to secure a preliminary 'Planning Interest', followed by a planning permission and 'Maritime Area Consent'
- Details of the planned legislative provisions under the MPDMB for designating 'Strategic Marine Activity Zones' for specific activities within the maritime area. Any Minister will be able to propose such a zone, although the final decision to adopt that zone remains with the Government as a whole
- A policy for giving preference to proposals for offshore wind farms in areas identified as 'designated zones' for offshore wind, using the process to be set out in the MPDMB
- A commitment to preparing regional or sub-national plans in future planning cycles - these plans will set out more localised provisions for marine planning and development
The NPMF will form a vital tool in the identification of Strategic Marine Activity Zones, and the granting of planning interests, planning permissions and Maritime Area Consents under the MPDMB.
Consultation on the draft NMPF is open until 28 February 2020. The Government intends to issue a finalised NMPF by late-2020.
For more information, please contact Alison Fanagan, Alan Roberts, Jason Milne, Ross Moore, John Dallas of any member of the Environmental & Planning team.
Date published: 18 November 2019