The Maritime Area Planning Bill (the MAP Bill) continues its progress through the Irish legislature. It has now completed the "second stage" in the Dáil (lower house), which involved debate on the general principles of the Bill.
Broadly speaking, there was support in the Dáil for the legislation. Representatives expressed some concerns regarding the need for adequate time to debate the Bill, and to ensure that maritime designations and protections are put in place before permissions for development are granted.
The MAP Bill now moves to the Select Committee for Housing, Local Government and Heritage for detailed examination and proposed amendments, and the relevant Government Minister is hopeful that the legislation can be finalised before year end.
The MAP Bill provides for new consenting processes for foreshore licences, foreshore leases and planning permissions for various marine projects including offshore renewable energy infrastructure. It also creates a new regulatory authority, and a regime for designating protected marine areas. In particular, this ambitious legislation aims to provide a mechanism for the consenting of offshore renewable energy projects in a way that complies with European environmental assessment obligations, facilitates Aarhus Convention-compliant public participation and gives Ireland a realistic chance of delivering new renewable energy sources allowing it to meet its 2030 climate change targets.