DUBLIN, Ireland - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed the government has taken a major step to boost development of the offshore renewable energy sector.
The government has approved a revised General Scheme of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill 2019.
This will bring about major reform of Ireland's marine spatial and consent planning system, and will modernise and streamline the process for approving maritime infrastructure projects, including offshore renewable energy.
"This Bill is part of the government's efforts to prevent climate change, provide cleaner air, and create the green jobs and businesses of the future. Our objective, as we plan for the future, is to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society," Varadkar said Monday.
The revised General Scheme was formerly the Maritime Area and Foreshore Amendment Bill 2013 and is being published on the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government's website.
The Scheme is being led through the Marine Legislation Steering Group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and reflects the policy position agreed by government in March 2019 to give legislative effect to the development of a coherent marine planning system.
The importance of the legislation has been reaffirmed across government policy including in the Climate Action Plan and Future Jobs Ireland.
The Bill, the government says, seeks to establish in law a new marine planning system, which is underpinned by a statutory Marine Planning Statement, guided by the National Marine Planning Framework and consists of a development management regime from the high water mark to the outer limit of the State's continental shelf administered by An Bord Pleanála and the coastal local authorities.
The new regime 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 new single consent principle, the government says, is designed to remove unnecessary duplication and provide greater certainty on the timeframes for decisions on development consent, thereby facilitating delivery of badly needed public infrastructure. It will also play a critical role in the harnessing of the potential of our offshore renewable energy resources and the transition towards a sustainable, secure and competitive energy system and in meeting our climate change goals.