Chapter 19: Marine Spatial Planning and Coastal Zone Management

Closed27 Apr, 2022, 9:00am - 25 May, 2022, 5:00pm

The following material alterations are proposed to Chapter 19 –  Marine Spatial Planning and Coastal Zone Management.  The proposed alterations should be read in conjunction with the original draft chapter which can be viewed here.


Section 19.1     Legislative & Strategic Context

National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF)

The NMPF, launched in July 2021, is a national plan for Ireland’s maritime area, setting out over a 20 year horizon, how we want to use, protect and enjoy our seas. The NMPF details how all marine based human activities will interact with each other in an ocean space that is under increasing spatial pressure, ensuring the sustainable use of our marine resources to 2040. The NMPF sits at the top of the hierarchy of plans and sectoral policies for the marine area. The plan has been informed by existing sectoral plans and will, in turn, be used to inform future cycles of those plans in an ongoing feedback loop. It provides a coherent framework in which those sectoral policies and objectives can be realised. It will become the key decision-making tool for regulatory authorities and policy makers into the future in a number of ways including decisions on individual consent applications which will have to secure the objectives of the plan, similar to the way that terrestrial plans form part of the decision-making tool-kit in the on-land planning process.

Towards a Marine Spatial Plan for Ireland – a roadmap for the development of Ireland’s first marine spatial plan’ was published by the Government in December 2017. It sets out four broad stages in the development of the plan:

  • Stage 1, of which the Roadmap formed a central part, was the start-up or activation phase during which the Government’s proposed approach to developing MSP was announced and initial contact made with stakeholders. This ran until end 2017;
  • Stage 2, the main development stage, commenced in Q1 2018 and ran until early 2020. It involved preparation and publishing for public consultation the Draft NMPF and associated environmental reports;
  • Stage 3 will be the finalisation phase during which the Draft NMPF and associated environmental reports will be amended as required based on the feedback received in the public consultation. The final NMPF and associated environmental reports will be prepared for submission to Government and adoption by the Oireachtas before forwarding to the European Commission ahead of the March 2021 deadline set out under the Directive;
  • Stage 4 is implementation, monitoring, enforcement and review commencing on adoption of the NMPF.

The draft NMPF was published in late 2019, and following public consultation, work is ongoing to finalise the framework.

The County Development Plan must be consistent with the approved NMPF, with common policy areas including renewable energy, electricity networks, coastal and flood defences, fishing and aquaculture, ports and harbours, public access, tourism and recreation, protected sites and species, seascape and landscape. When dealing with an application in the maritime area it is important to refer to the NMPF as a key policy document along with any other relevant government guidance / policy.

Marine Planning and Development Management Bill 2019 Maritime Area Planning Act 2021

This legislation has put in place a comprehensive and coherent planning system for the entire Maritime Area. This Act seeks to establish in law a new regime for maritime areas, streamlinedining existing previous arrangements, to allow for a single consent principle (eliminate the duplication of development management processes for activities or developments that are currently assessed under both the foreshore and planning regimes with the introduction of a single process administered by local authorities / An Bord Pleanála). One of the main features is to extend the existing planning permission functions of coastal local authorities to the outer limit of a newly defined nearshore.[19]

The Bill has a focus on marine forward planning, with the introduction of statutory marine planning guidelines and to ensure decisions are taken in a manner that secure the objectives of the NMPF.  It also provides for transitional arrangements including, inter alia, a future development management pathway for offshore renewable energy projects and for a system of designation of Strategic Marine Activity Zones.

The constituent elements of this system are: (1) Forward Planning; (2) Development Management; and (3) Enforcement. The Act also has established a new agency, Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) to undertake certain consenting and enforcement functions.



Section 19.1     Legislative & Strategic Context

National Planning Framework (NPF)

The NPF recognises that our coastal areas play a variety of roles, across a number of sectors and are an important asset for future development of the Country. It identifies that sustainable utilisation of Ireland’s marine resources, particularly in the nearshore, is dependent to a significant degree on how we manage our resources on land, and that there are many shared aims and overlapping areas of co-ordination and activity between marine spatial planning and land-use planning.

Areas of Overlap for Co-ordination

Sectoral: Community Development & Public Consultation; Economic Development; Transport – Ports and Harbours; Energy – Electricity & Renewable Energy; Fishing; Aquaculture & Mariculture; Social and Culture; Tourism & Leisure; Flood Protection; Extraction; Enabling Infrastructure; Health & Safety; Communications

Environment: Sustainable Use of Resources; Climate Change Adaptation; Water Quality; Coastal Erosion & Accretion; Protected Sites and Environmentally Sensitive Areas; Flooding; Biodiversity; Landscape and Seascape

Governance: Regulation and Licensing: Consent process for onshore and offshore development and activities; Responsibilities for managing activities in areas of land-sea interaction

Data: Research including spatial data management; cumulative effects; evidence base; socio-economic profiles

NPO 41a

Ensure that Ireland’s coastal resource is managed to sustain its physical character and environmental quality.



Section 19.4     Marine Spatial Planning and Coastal Zone Management Objectives

Marine Planning Objectives

CPO19.1            To review and update the County Development Plan if necessary to ensure that it is consistent with the following:

  • the National Marine Planning Framework; following its adoption, and
  • the Marine Planning and Development Management Act Maritime Area Planning Act.

CPO19.2            To work with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and other relevant government departments and bodies on marine planning with particular reference to the following areas;

  • the implementation of the National Marine Planning Framework (following its adoption);
  • the implementation of any future Marine Planning and Development Management Act Maritime Area Planning Act in so far as it relates to the duties and functions of the Planning Authority,
  • the designation of the nearshore area for County Wicklow,
  • the preparation of any sub-regional plans for the maritime area and nearshore area.

[19] Part 2 of the Act provides for the designation of a new nearshore area in which coastal local authorities will exercise certain planning and enforcement functions.