Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, and the officials from the Department to the meeting as we resume Committee Stage of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021. We are restarting our deliberations at section 139, amendment No. 210, in my name and that of Deputy Duffy. Amendments Nos. 210 to 215, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. As amendment No. 210 is in my name, I will vacate the Chair so that I can speak on it. I will also speak on amendment No. 213.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin took the Chair.
SECTION 139

I move amendment No. 210:

In page 123, line 30, to delete “(ii) a receiver or examiner is appointed to the holder,”.

Amendments Nos. 210 and 213 are related. I think I spoke on this yesterday instead of on amendment No. 206 and the Minister of State responded. I just want to recap on it. Where a maritime area consent, MAC, holder goes into liquidation, the process is that the receiver or whoever takes over must reapply for a licence. Am I correct in that?

That is fine. Amendment No. 213 is related to that as well. I have spoken on both of them and will now withdraw them.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Deputy Steven Matthews resumed the Chair.

I move amendment No. 211:

In page 124, to delete lines 1 to 6 and substitute the following:

“(c) development permission is required for the maritime usage the subject of the application and the application for such permission has been refused in circumstances where no further step can be taken by the holder, or a court, in respect of that application.”.

Section 139(c) provides for automatic termination of a MAC in two circumstances. First, where a MAC holder has submitted a planning permission application for a different usage than specified in the MAC and, second, where a planning application has been refused. Amendment No. 211 removes the first circumstance as there will be an element of subjectivity and judgment required where the usage is slightly different. This may or may not be objectionable. The maritime area regulatory authority, MARA, will instead manage such circumstances through the enforcement provisions which can end up with a revocation of the MAC in question.

Amendment No. 214 is a technical amendment to reflect the changes in amendment No. 211.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 212:

In page 124, to delete lines 1 to 6.

The idea behind this amendment and amendment No. 215 is to make sure that the years of survey work, all of the community engagement and all of the investment of time and resources into MACs, are preserved when those projects are reapplied for or where people are looking at them again. These amendments are specifically about the MACs and making sure that we are keeping that information, that it is there to be used again rather than people starting from scratch again. Some of the Minister of State's amendments deal with this slightly differently and I ask him to give his perspective before I press my amendments.

Amendment No. 212 seeks to remove section 139(1)(c) completely and amendment No. 215 seeks to insert an additional clause in section 139 to the effect that the MARA may suspend automatic termination to facilitate the new application. These proposals have been somewhat superseded by amendments Nos. 211 and 214. I have to oppose both amendments on foot of this. The provisions are required to provide a definitive endpoint to the process. Refusal of planning permission application is the appropriate endpoint. A new MAC application will have to be made to facilitate a new planning application. MARA must have the opportunity to reassess circumstances as the refusal of planning permission may occur some years after the MAC grant and the world may have moved on significantly. Failure to secure planning permission would be strong evidence that the MAC holder does not have the required technical capabilities to complete the project.

This provision is intended to disincentivise commercially driven risk taken of the kind we have seen on land where the developer may apply for significantly more than the receiving environment can bear. It would also be necessary to avoid land-hoarding or "zombie" MACs. We want serious applicants to make good quality applications, in good time, to deliver sustainable development and the Bill is designed to drive that behaviour. In light of these explanations, I hope that Deputy Higgins may consider withdrawing her amendments.

I am happy to do so. That makes sense. I thank the Minister of State for that detailed response.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 213 not moved.

I move amendment No. 214:

In page 124, line 20, to delete “subsection (1)(c)(ii)” and substitute “subsection (1)(c)”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 215 not moved.
Section 139, as amended, agreed to.
Deputy Eoin Ó Broin took the Chair.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No. 216:

In page 124, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

“Termination in the event of receivership or examinership

140. A relevant authorisation shall contain a power to the MARA to terminate such relevant authorisation where a receiver or examiner is appointed to the holder subject to such terms and conditions as may be prescribed in regulations.”.

This amendment is similar to others I have spoken on before. It seeks to implement conditions to allow lenders to step in to preserve a MAC if they agree to meet the obligations of the MAC holder with regard to transfer of ownership. Is that possible?

Amendment No. 216 seeks to replace provisions relating to receivership or examinership. If I understand correctly, the intention behind this amendment, as was the case with amendments Nos. 210 and 213, is to facilitate continuity of activities, for example the continued operation of a ferry port, while the financial considerations are ongoing. I can appreciate why these measures appear practical. However, we must oppose them. The circumstances where companies enter into receivership and examinership do not generally arise overnight. These automatic termination provisions will act as a statutory cliff edge to incentivise early action on the part of MAC holders, for example, securing additional financial partners or a joint application for assignment of the MAC to another entity. Receivership and examinership can be complex and litigious. This automatic termination provision places the State in a strong position in such circumstances. The control of the property remains in the hands of the MARA and will be administered in the best interests of the State. The MARA will act reasonably in such circumstances and as a practical matter would not trigger enforcement action or the rehabilitation schedule pending the outcome of the financial processes. A new MAC application could be made.

I thank the Minister of State for the response. I refer to the 90 days to apply for a MAC and for it to be issued. The MARA will be fully resourced to meet that requirement.

Absolutely. The Taoiseach made a strong, robust statement on this when we were launching the national marine planning framework, stating that as we go through the negotiating process, the MARA will have the necessary resources. We are aware of the challenge. It will have to be well-resourced. The Government will ensure that.

I am satisfied and will withdraw amendment No. 216 on that basis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Deputy Steven Matthews resumed the Chair.
Sections 140 to 143, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 144
Question proposed: "That section 144 stand part of the Bill."

Section 144 relates to an appeal by the holder of the relevant authorisation against a decision to impose a major sanction. That would be dealt with by the High Court. Will the Minister of State explain, if an entity is trying to defend a decision to impose a major sanction and the holder of the authorisation is saying that there should not be a sanction, whether people such as non-governmental organisations, the public or stakeholders would have a right to give evidence on their view about whether the sanction was justified? If the holder of the authorisation is saying that there is nothing to be seen, nothing has been done wrong and a sanction is not deserved, how would those proceedings operate?

I cannot pre-empt how a court case would work. The MARA would have to robustly defend the sanctions that it would have imposed should a holder take a case against it. It is up to the holder to conclusively prove it to the court. It is an independent process. The judge would adjudicate on it. It would be up to the holder to prove its case in court. I cannot say whether a court would limit who can or cannot give evidence on each side. That is not my role.

I want to fully understand this. We raised concerns yesterday about the potential difficulties in access to justice for NGOs, for example, the costs and so on that they might incur. In this particular instance, let us say that the reason that the MARA decided a sanction might be necessary is because it received reports from stakeholders, NGOs or members of the public that they felt the holder of the authorisation was breaking the rules of the authorisation and was not compliant in some way. If people asked the MARA to look into and investigate cases and it then decided that there was something to investigate and was of the view that sanction would be required, would those people have the right to give evidence to the High Court if they wished? Could they state why they brought the matter to the MARA's attention and outline their view that what the authorisation holder stated was not true?

It is being able to supplement the case that sanctions should be brought. Does the Minister of State understand my point?

Yes. They would give evidence to the maritime area regulatory authority, MARA, as part of its investigation in the first instance. If it has a report or there is an issue where there has been a breach, MARA would have the capacity to investigate. Obviously, it would play a key part in that investigation.

On the second part, if it goes before the court on foot of MARA making a determination, MARA will have the job of defending its decision. I cannot assess what the court case will be at that point in time but it would have fed into the investigation part at the very start.

I understand that point. I am trying to thrash this around so that I am clear in my own head. If it was the case that a stakeholder, an NGO or, for that matter, a concerned member of the public had brought matters to the attention of MARA that prompted it to investigate and impose sanctions, certainly MARA would have to defend its position in the court against an appeal by the authorisation holder that this was an unfair sanction. However, it might well be the case - I could certainly imagine a case - where the stakeholder itself or the NGO would say that, as well as whatever MARA will say, it wants to give evidence in these proceedings as to the reason it thinks MARA's decision is entirely justifiable and to represent its own position as the group that potentially had prompted the entire investigation in the first place. That is what I am asking. One could imagine there could be quite controversial matters going on in a court between MARA and the authorisation holder where those stakeholders might state that they have a strong view on this and they want to give their evidence to the court as to why they think sanction is, indeed, justified and MARA has acted correctly in these circumstances.

I hear what the Deputy is saying. In the first instance, MARA is the competent authority and it would have carried out the investigation. It is the one that will be in the dock, so to speak, to defend its decision and it will have to mount a defence. I cannot pre-empt in terms of a particular future court case who or who may not be required to give evidence as part of that process. It is an impossible question for me to make a determination on. What I can say is that as part of the investigations, MARA, being the competent authority, will have assessed complaints, interviews, etc., from any particular stakeholder if it has reported a sanction in a particular area. It is up to MARA to exercise its professional judgment in making a decision of sanction, and everyone has a right to recourse through the courts. That is the independent process that would take place afterwards.

I will not labour the point except to say - I will consider submitting an amendment on Report Stage - that it would not be unreasonable to consider at least some sort of provision where those who felt they had a stake in the outcome of those proceedings might be allowed to give evidence to the court as to why they think the decision to impose a sanction was a correct one. In other words, not only what MARA thought was relevant evidence but what that stakeholder or NGO felt was relevant to the considerations of the court.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 145 to 147, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 148
Question proposed: "That section 148 stand part of the Bill."

Can I get a little clarification here on the protections that exist for those who have reported an alleged ground for sanction. That is what this section deals with. Could the Minister of State run through the protections? I note reference to communications that are deemed frivolous or vexatious. That is fair enough. They would not provide grounds for protection for persons reporting alleged relevant ground, but will nearly any other concern being expressed around the breaching of grounds give protection to those who want to make complaints or call for investigations to MARA?

It is fairly well conclusively set out on pages 130 to 132, inclusive, of the Bill exactly what is contained within that section to save me from reading it all out in terms of what is in it. It is plain for everyone to see what is in it in terms of protections. That is all we are proposing at this stage.

If someone knows the communication or information to be false, misleading, frivolous or vexatious, that is clear and fair enough. Can the Minister of State clarify what would be the point of "reckless"? What does that mean in terms of "reckless"? Obviously false could be considered reckless but if one does not know it to be false, what makes it reckless?

MARA will determine that. It will exercise its professional judgment on that in keeping with the legislation. It is like asking me how long is a piece of string.

If one knows something to be false-----

I am telling the Deputy what will happen. I am telling the Deputy that MARA will exercise its professional judgment in determining that.

I am trying to understand this wording in the Bill. If one knows something to be false, that is not delivered in good faith.

It is standard wording, I am advised, in the Legislature.

I am only looking for clarity as to what that standard wording means. Clearly, if one knowingly gives false information, that could be considered reckless. If one is giving false information but one does not know, how is it reckless? How is it decided that is reckless? If it is given in good faith, for example, is that considered reckless?

It is stated clearly in the Bill and in sections 148(5)(a)(i)(I) and (II):

(I) knowing it to be false, misleading, frivolous or vexatious, or

(II) reckless as to whether it was false, .... .

Essentially, it is up to MARA to use its judgment in interpreting that.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 149 to 161, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 162
Question proposed: "That section 162 stand part of the Bill."

Can I make a comment on sections 162 to 165, inclusive?

Go ahead.

There are some issues here that I might bring up on Report State and I want to reserve the right.

I thank Deputy O'Callaghan.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 163 to 165, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 166

We will discuss amendments Nos. 217 to 224, inclusive.

Can I deal with amendment No. 227 as well, as part of amendment No. 217 as they do the same thing?

Okay. We will discuss amendment No. 217 with this group as well.

I move amendment No. 217:

In page 140, to delete lines 12 to 19 and substitute the following:

"280. (1) Subject to subsection (2), this Chapter applies to development situated—

(a) wholly in the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority, or

(b) partly in the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority and partly on land.

(2) This Chapter does not apply to development—

(a) of a class specified in the Eighth Schedule (inserted by section 167 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021),

(b) in accordance with a permission (whether or not granted before the repeal of Part XV) that, immediately before the repeal of Part XV, was required in accordance with section 225, or

(c) consisting of—

(i) the erection of a building, pier, wall or other structure in accordance with a map, plan or specification approved in accordance with section 10 of the Act of 1933, or

(ii) the deposit of any material in accordance with a consent referred to in section 13 of the Act of 1933.".

There might be a few changes in terms of the groupings here as we were trying to work at pace. I will alert the Chairman to them as best I can.

As referenced, I propose to deal with amendments Nos. 217 and 227 together as they do the same thing.

The purpose of amendment No. 217 is to disapply this chapter on applications made to coastal planning authorities in respect of two additional categories to those in the original text. First, subsection 2(b) of the amendment refers to development in accordance with a permission granted in accordance with section 225 of the Planning and Development Act. Section 225 provides for planning permission for development on the foreshore. In effect, this amendment seeks to ensure that, where a person is already in possession of a permission under Part XV, he or she will not be required to apply again if that development has not yet commenced. It is a technical amendment and the previous formulation would have applied this chapter to authorised developments that had not yet commenced. It is related to an amendment previously agreed to section 12 of the Bill.

Second, subsection 2(c) of this amendment refers to developments authorised under the listed sections of the Foreshore Act 1933. Post enactment, there will still be limited instances of developments being authorised under sections 10 and 13 of that Act by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This amendment seeks to ensure that there is no double authorisation for such development approvals. It should be noted that this only applies to applications to coastal planning authorities in their own nearshore areas.

Amendment No. 227 is similar to amendment No. 217 as it relates to the application of chapter III. It is there to ensure that there is not a requirement to obtain planning permission where a development consent already exists, either through the repealed Part XV of the Planning and Development Act or the referenced sections of the Foreshore Act. The amendment is in two parts. The first part is to disapply this chapter in respect of a development in accordance with a permission granted under Part XV of the Planning and Development Act and the second, at paragraph (b), does the same for sections 10 and 13 of the Foreshore Act.

The purpose of amendment No. 218 is to confirm that one of the ways a person is made eligible to apply for permission for development under this chapter is to be the holder of a lease under section 2 of Foreshore Act 1933 for "the proposed development concerned". This provision has already been made in the initiated text, but this formulation more tightly links the eligibility criteria specifically to a lease for the proposed development.

Amendment No. 220 is a technical drafting amendment and related to amendment No. 218. This amendment carries on the reference to a holder of a lease under section 2 of the Foreshore Act 1933 as a qualifying criterion that enables a planning authority to consider an application for permission under section 34 or to grant such a permission.

Amendments Nos. 219, 221-----

My apologies. The purpose of amendment No. 219 is to remove the existing disapplication at section 281(4) for development to which Part XI applies, as an exemption for coastal planning authorities is already provided for in section 4 of the Planning and Development Act, as amended in this Bill. The initiated text inadvertently doubled up on this exemption. In order to avoid a deviation in approach from the existing system in the Planning and Development Act, I am deleting this text because it is unnecessary.

Amendment No. 221 provides that coastal planning authorities can apply a condition as per section 34(5) of the Planning and Development Act. The subsection provides that a coastal planning authority can attach to a planning permission a condition that points of detail can be agreed between a coastal planning authority and the person carrying out a development. The purpose of this amendment is to provide that, after the grant of planning permission, fine details of a development may be agreed with a coastal planning authority where, as is frequently the case, it is not possible to determine such details in an application for planning permission. Its omission in the initiated text was an oversight and would have resulted in a situation whereby applications made on land could have a condition applied under section 34(5) but a maritime application could not. This will ensure consistency for local authority planning decisions.

Amendment No. 222 inserts a new subsection (4), which provides that section 34(2)(a) of the Planning and Development Act shall not apply in respect of a maritime application. The purpose of this amendment is to remove a limitation that would otherwise have an effect on what a coastal planning authority can consider in respect of a maritime application. In effect, if the initiated text remained, it could have been inferred that a coastal planning authority was limited to considering the provisions of section 34(2)(a) and not the additional considerations provided for in the Bill.

Amendment No. 223 is a technical drafting amendment related to amendment No. 222. The purpose of this amendment is to change the number of the subsection from (4) to (5) to provide for the new numbering at amendment No. 222.

Amendment No. 224 was tabled to make express provision to include conditions that might arise at a point post consent. There are various players and levels of consultation involved, for example, coastal planning authorities. This amendment seeks to ensure that there is an opportunity to include conditions after the consent. The Minister of State has probably given us a great deal of detail on this matter already. Does he wish to give me a quick response before I decide whether to push the amendment?

I agree with the Deputy's amendment, which is covered conclusively by amendment No. 221. With the Deputy's agreement, I would be grateful if she withdrew it, given the explanation provided in amendment No. 221.

That is fine. I thank the Minister of State for taking on board that feedback.

My question relates to the proposed changes to the Planning and Development Act. A key problem in terrestrial planning and housing supply is the use of the planning system by people sometimes to speculate by obtaining planning permissions and increasing land values. It does not always lead to the amount of housing output that is desirable, wanted and needed. What safeguards are in place in this section of the Bill to give us confidence that the planning processes cannot be used to obtain permissions for, for example, renewable energy, which is necessary, only to then not deliver on it? The processes could be used to obtain further permissions down the road for when returns can potentially improve as technology improves. There is a concern that we will not get the delivery of renewable energy that we need because people obtain permissions but do not act on them because they are waiting for technology and returns to improve.

I agree with the terms of the Deputy's engagement. I discussed in detail the automatic termination, under which we have put the State in the best possible position to respond to any deviation or change in infrastructure that has received the maximum permission. I am confident in that regard.

Second, An Bord Pleanála can attach conditions to the planning application. As we have seen throughout this process, it is very clear that we want serious players in the market. We want serious engagement that meets all environmental criteria that has the best possible sustainable outcome for our maritime area. I believe through MARA, having control of the MAC process and with respect to planning permission through the board, that those tick that box well.

For clarity, the Minister of State said that under maritime area consents, nothing actually happens and licences or relatively minor activities are granted by MARA but any development is dealt with in this section.

It depends whether-----

I refer to things that might be considered to have an impact on the environment or the required screening and public consultation provisions. Those are all dealt with here. Is that correct? Does that include, for example, seismic surveys? Where are they dealt with?

It depends on what definition they meet. If a survey requires a licence and if it requires an environmental impact assessment, EIA, it would go straight to the planning process through the board; if it does not, it would be part of a licence under the separate structure we discussed in the planning Act.

For the purposes of my simplistic understanding, would a seismic survey require a development consent or just a licence?

It depends on what the survey is. Surveys require a licence. There are triggers provided for in terms of whether it falls under MARA, in terms of the licensing process or whether it has go to the board if it constitutes development. I cannot give the Deputy an example of each as there are different types of surveys. It will depend on the type of survey and what environmental mechanisms it will trigger in terms of the decision-making body it ends up being dealt with, be it MARA or An Bord Pleanála.

I understand it depends on the type of survey. I asked specifically about a seismic survey.

As seismic surveys would have to undergo an EIA, those applications would end up being dealt with by the board.

Yes, potentially. They would have to be screened first. There are many different seismic surveys. I cannot say exactly what is the process for each of them. I cannot give the Deputy a carte blanche answer that would cover every single one. I am outlining clearly the process through which the application would have to go. The surveys would have to be screened. If they require an EIA, the applications would have to go to An Bord Pleanála. If they do not, the process would be licensing through MARA. I cannot go into the micro detail of each individual application because I do not have that information. I hope the Deputy appreciates that.

I am trying to tease it out.

I need to consider what the Minister of State said in his response to me. I reserve the right to return to this amendment on Report Stage.

Absolutely.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 218:

In page 140, to delete lines 38 and 39, and in page 141, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

“(c) is the lessee under a lease—

(i) made under section 2 of the Act of 1933, of a part of the foreshore that consists of, or includes, the maritime site on which it is proposed to carry out the development concerned,

and

(ii) that contains a covenant, condition or agreement, to which subsection (4) of the said section 2 applies, requiring the lessee to carry out, on that maritime site, the proposed development concerned, or”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 219:

In page 141, to delete lines 11 to 13.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 220:

In page 141, to delete lines 30 to 33 and substitute the following:

“(c) is the lessee under a lease—

(i) made under section 2 of the Act of 1933, of a part of the foreshore that consists of, or includes, the maritime site on which it is proposed to carry out the development concerned,

and

(ii) that contains a covenant, condition or agreement, to which subsection (4) of the said section 2 applies, requiring the lessee to carry out, on that maritime site, the proposed development concerned, or”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 221:

In page 142, line 35, after “subsection (4)” to insert “or (5)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 222:

In page 144, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“(4) Paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section 34 shall not apply in relation to a maritime application.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 223:

In page 144, line 14, to delete “(4)” and substitute “(5)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 224:

In page 144, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“(5) The conditions which may be attached to a permission under section 34(1), 34(4) or subsection (3) may provide that points of detail relating to a grant of permission may be agreed between the coastal planning authority and the person carrying out the development; if the coastal planning authority and that person cannot agree on the matter the matter may be referred to the Board for determination.”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 225 to 233, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 225:

In page 145, to delete lines 37 and 38 and substitute the following:

“285. (1) Subject to subsection (2), this Chapter applies to—

(a) development situated—

(i) wholly in the outer maritime area,

(ii) partly in the outer maritime area and partly in—

(I) the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority, or

(II) the nearshore areas of more than one coastal planning authority,

(iii) partly in the outer maritime area, partly in—

(I) the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority, or

(II) the nearshore areas of more than one coastal planning authority, and partly on land, or

(iv) partly in the outer maritime area and partly on land,”.

The purpose of this amendment is to confirm that this chapter applies where part of the proposed development is on land. The initiated text had the same effect but in order to ensure there is no risk of misinterpreting the jurisdiction of the board in respect of applications that start in the maritime area and end up on the land, the wording has been explicit in the replacement of paragraph (a) of the initiated text at section 285. In plain English, it does not change the intention, rather it spells out that if an application for development starts in the outer maritime area and finishes either on land or in the nearshore, the board will have jurisdiction.

Amendment No. 226 is a technical drafting amendment. The purpose of this amendment is to remove the comma after the word "land" to improve grammar.

Amendment No. 228 is the same as that is proposed under amendment No. 218 but relating to applications made to An Bord Pleanála. The form of words used ties the applicant to the development referred to in the lease. Any deviation from this will trigger the MAC requirement. Legacy leaseholders will not be eligible to apply for planning permission for different types of categories of development without a new MAC, thus ensuring that they will come under the new system as proposed in this Bill.

Ultimately, however, this is a new category of applicants which is required as a result of the remaining foreshore functions under the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and it is for this reason that provision has been made. In short, what is being put forward here is that once the regime is up and running there may be developments related to aquaculture that are not exempted development and the provision will allow those leaseholders to apply for planning permission, as is already the case. As stated, this is not designed to remove or avoid the requirement of a MAC.

Amendments Nos. 229 and 230 are in my name. Would Deputy O'Callaghan mind taking the Chair while I discuss those amendments?

Deputy Cian O'Callaghan took the Chair.

Regarding amendments Nos. 229 and 230, the Minister of State confirmed earlier that MARA would be highly resourced, supported and up and running in a timely manner to meet the expected planning demands and requests that will be placed on it. An applicant needs to await the granting of a MAC before engaging in any pre-planning discussions. Is it the Minister of State’s view it is timely to wait for the 90 days involved or would it be a positive for the process for an applicant to engage in pre-planning discussions while also going through the MAC application process?

I can read the technical response. It might assist the Deputy. Amendment No. 229 provides that any applicant for a maritime area consent may enter into pre-application discussions with the board. This would run contrary to the policy intention of the sequential MAC planning process whereby the MAC is the gateway to planning. There are a number of possible negative outcomes that could occur as a result of this amendment. First, where an applicant fails to be granted a MAC there is no resolution proposed for the outcome in the amendment. In other words, are they no longer a prospective applicant? There is the further possibility in such instances of the board’s resources potentially being wasted. The applicant cannot guarantee in respect of their access to any specific part of the maritime area without being granted a MAC. The purpose of the MAC application process in the first instance, as has already been stated repeatedly, is to test the ability of the applicant to deliver on what has been proposed. The net result of this is that at the pre-application process, the board would engage in a more likely result in an application for development and that speculative applications are actively discouraged. The result of this amendment could, in theory, be a deluge of applications for MACs with a concurrently deluge of applications for pre-planning with the board, most of which would not get beyond application stage. The resources of MARA and the board would potentially be wasted.

As I have said previously, I am seeking to move a more orderly and plan-led system than we have had heretofore and our fear is this potentially could undermine that objective. I am sure this is not the intention and the Deputy would no doubt want to see proposals for much needed wind infrastructure processed as soon as possible but I also note the decision in time for a MAC is 90 days. That is not excessive considering the design and development timeframes for such infrastructure. The assessment criterion in the MAC process will provide the best applications for planning. The sequential approach being proposed here is in the best interests of the State and the resources at our disposal. I am sure, on reflection, the Deputy may consider what I have just referred to.

I would agree with the Minister of State. I do not think 90 days in an excessive amount of time to wait.

On that basis I will withdraw amendments Nos. 229 and 230, which are related. I thank the Minister of State for his response.

I invite Deputy Higgins to address amendment No. 231. The Deputy is not there at the moment. Will Deputy Matthews speak to that amendment?

I will ask the Minister of State to speak to that amendment.

I apologise, Chairman; I am here. I was listening to Deputy Ó Broin on the radio in the background.

Amendment No. 231 seeks to introduce further clarification on what the board can set out in respect of the content of an application made to it. The wording of section 287(2)(b), as it exists, is sufficiently broad to allow the board to specify any type of documentation to be submitted with an application, in addition to what might be prescribed by regulation. Moreover, the specific forms and level of detail required for maritime applications will be prescribed by regulation, as referred to in sections 291 and 306. It would weaken the system potentially overall to give the board discretionary powers in such matters. This is something that should be consistently regulated as currently done through the planning and development regulations. While I fully acknowledge what Deputy Higgins is attempting to achieve here through this amendment, we believe this is a matter for secondary legislation and regulation.

That is fine. I appreciate that reply. That makes sense to me.

The purpose of amendment No. 232 is to confirm that the board may provide its opinion based on consideration of some or all of the matters it is likely to take into consideration relating to what is listed at section 287(2)(f). In effect, at pre-planning the board can relate to the applicant what it is likely to look at during the consideration of an application proper. The formulation in the existing text at paragraph (f) used the word "will" and may have inadvertently limited the board to considering only those matters discussed at pre-planning. This would be at variance from the existing land-based provisions and would, in effect, have precluded the board from considering new information raised, for example, in the public consultation during the period. I am sure Deputies will agree this would not have been satisfactory. The board must be allowed to examine all matters it considers relevant when the planning application proper is set before it. Not all of the details may be apparent at pre-planning stage, and the public and prescribed bodies may be allowed to raise new issues that can be material considerations in the decision-making process.

The purpose of amendment No. 233 is to confirm that being the holder of a lease under section 2 of the Foreshore Act 1933 for the same development is a qualifying criterion that enables the board to consider an application for screening for environmental impact assessment in respect of a proposed development. This is related to other amendments that make foreshore leaseholders eligible applicants and it is designed to accommodate those foreshore functions remaining with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It replaces the existing text to link the lease more tightly to the development concerned, thus closing off any avenues for other legacy foreshore leases to access the planning system. It is related to earlier amendments, but not grouped, and it is specifically related to environmental impact assessment screening.

Amendment agreed to.
Deputy Steven Matthews resumed the Chair.

I move amendment No. 226:

In page 146, line 13, to delete “land,” and substitute “land”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 227:

In page 146, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

“(2) This Chapter does not apply to development -

(a) in accordance with a permission (whether or not granted before the repeal of Part XV) that, immediately before the repeal of Part XV, was required in accordance with section 225, or

(b)consisting of -

(i) the erection of a building, pier, wall or other structure in accordance with a map, plan or specification approved in accordance with section 10 of the Act of 1933, or

(ii) the deposit of any material in accordance with a consent referred to in section 13 of the Act of 1933.”.

Amendment agreed to

I move amendment No. 228:

In page 146, to delete lines 37 and 38, and in page 147, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

“(c) is the lessee under a lease -

(i) made under section 2 of the Act of 1933, of a part of the foreshore that consists of, or includes, the maritime site on which it is proposed to carry out the development concerned, and

(ii) that contains a covenant, condition or agreement, to which subsection (4) of the said section 2 applies, requiring the lessee to carry out, on that maritime site, the proposed development concerned, or”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 229 to 231, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 232:

In page 148, to delete line 13 and substitute the following:

“(f) some or all of the matters that the Board is likely to take into consideration relating to -”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 233:

In page 149, to delete lines 39 to 42 and substitute the following:

“(c) is the lessee under a lease -

(i) made under section 2 of the Act of 1933, of a part of the foreshore that consists of, or includes, the maritime site on which it is proposed to carry out the development concerned, and

(ii) that contains a covenant, condition or agreement, to which subsection (4) of the said section 2 applies, requiring the lessee to carry out, on that maritime site, the proposed development concerned, or”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 234 to 246, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 234:

In page 151, to delete line 22 and substitute the following:

“(ii) such information, plans and drawings as may be prescribed,”.

I propose to deal with amendments Nos. 234 and 235 together and I will come back on the other amendments in the grouping shortly.

Amendment No. 234 slightly amends section 291(1)(a)(ii) and provides that an application shall be accompanied by such information, plans and drawings as may be prescribed. The purpose of this amendment is to insert "information" in place of "particulars" to provide for more latitude in what can be prescribed by way of regulation to be included in an application. Emerging technologies and ways of applying for permission mean there may be different types of information required for different types of application. This amendment simply provides latitude in the regulation-making power. It will still be a requirement for an applicant to submit an application in accordance with regulations made under this provision.

I flag to the committee that I will also be considering commensurate amendments to the land-based provisions to align both systems at this time and to ensure consistency. If proposed, these amendments will be inserted into Schedule 12 and will provide the power to make regulations and issue guidelines for applicants for development consent under the Planning and Development Act 2000. I will bring these amendments forward on Report Stage.

Amendment No. 235-----

I am happy to withdraw amendment No. 235 because amendment No. 234 encompasses that.

I thank Deputy Higgins. We will continue with amendment No. 236.

Amendment No. 236 is fairly straightforward. It requires that the board would, first, make the application available on the website of the board within two working days of it being received, and that the board would make any documentation related to the application, correspondence and submissions available online as soon as is practicable, but not later than three days after they are received or sent by the board. This is very important for public participation in the process and for scrutiny. It is important those applications and documentation are available relatively quickly from the board for scrutiny and analysis, and for involving people so they can have a say and see what is in the application and the detail of it, and that it is available to them quickly and particularly on the website. It is important enough that it needs to be in the legislation. Certainly, in terms of other planning processes there can be issues with that documentation not being available for some time. It puts people at a disadvantage with regard to the time they have. I hope the Minister of State will be able to accept the amendment.

Amendment No. 236 seeks to provide that an application to the board for permission for development should be made available on the website of the board within two working days of receipt and that any documents related to the application, correspondence and submissions should be made available online not later than three days after they are received or sent by the board.

It is the intention that applicants will prepare a dedicated website for applications under this chapter in the same manner as is currently the case for strategic infrastructure development applications.

This system works very well, and the board publishes links to these websites on its own website as a matter of course. These provisions are repeated here for maritime applications in section 287(2)(c), so the requirement to publish the application documentation online is already in place.

This amendment is also unnecessary and would repeat obligations already placed on the board under section 146 of the Planning and Development Act. The amendment to the Act proposed at Schedule 12 in respect of section 125 provides that the obligations of the board to publish material on its website will be applied to maritime applications. I will propose a further technical amendment to this section later to ensure its applicability to both applications under sections 291 and 297.

The formulation the Deputies propose would deviate significantly from the existing land-based provisions and could result in a situation in which one type of application has a different set of publishing requirements from another simply by virtue of the fact that a part of it is in the maritime area.

I oppose the amendment. Ultimately, I feel it is not necessary on foot of the aforementioned.

The problem with this is that it seems to replicate the procedure that was put in place for strategic housing developments, whereby a separate, stand-alone website by the applicant is hosted. One of the difficulties with those websites is, of course, that they expire, and, therefore, they do not have the longevity that, for example, the board's website or a local authority's website has. The value of this amendment is that it would all be centralised on the board's website, although I accept that there would be links on the board's website. When that private sector website closes - and it will close - the link on the board's website will close. Therefore, there should be some way of it being stored on the board's website. While I know the Minister of State will not accept the amendment, I ask him to examine that. For example, I had reason to go back to my local authority just to get the history of records for an SHD that had been approved in 2018. The difficulty is that none of those records are online any more and I now have to try to get them manually. The Minister of State's provisions are not satisfactory. If he could at least consider the intention behind this amendment and come back on Report Stage with some alterations to his own proposal, that could be helpful.

To add to that, a major issue with SHDs is that the information is lost once the private website goes down and people do not have access to it. Of course, they can access the information through the process Deputy Ó Broin is going through now, but that is incredibly inaccessible, so a lot of that information and the access to it are lost. That creates problems with compliance and enforcement where people may think there is an issue and they want to go in and have a look at the information before they take up anyone's time in an enforcement role or capacity. They want to check themselves to see whether they are correct in thinking there is a potential breach. If they cannot access that information, it is hugely problematic for them.

There is another issue. The websites for the SHDs can be user-friendly, which is good. On a negative note, they can have certainly aspects of marketing from the developer. I understand why a developer would do that but it can also just create a public perception of not getting the information from an independent source but from the developer, with their nice drawings or images or whatever, presenting the development in the best possible light. That tends to be how it looks on the home page. There are those aspects as well. I know they may seem a bit superficial, but they have an impact on the process. The core issue here is having access to that information on a centralised website such as the board's. I ask the Minister of State to look at that.

First, this is based on the process for SID applications. Second, while I hear the Deputies' viewpoints, for applications that are approved, all the submission details will be held under the marine spatial plan portal on the marineplan.ie website. For all successful applications, all documentation relevant to the planning decision will be held on that portal and captured for all time. That is provided for under Chapter 8, if the Deputies wish to refer back.

Amendment No. 237 seeks to provide that the board may hold meetings with the applicant for permission or any other person for the purpose of determining the application or resolving any issue with the applicant or any disagreement between the applicant and any other party, including in advance of an oral hearing.

I thank the Deputies for this proposal and I understand that it is their intention that such a facility could encourage the speedy resolution of specific matters with the aim of expediting the delivery of much-needed infrastructure. It is my intention, however, that the provisions in this Bill as they relate to the planning process would avoid instances in which the public might be excluded from decision-making. It is my understanding that this power, as it exists in the SID provisions under section 37F, is rarely used by An Bord Pleanála for this very reason. Although I understand the Deputies' desire that decisions be made more quickly, I want to ensure the public can participate where such matters can be resolved in a public forum such as an oral hearing.

Therefore, based on the aforementioned, I ask the Deputies concerned to consider withdrawing the amendment.

I will speak to amendments Nos. 238 and 239 because they relate to the same section, which is section 293. Amendment No. 238 is a reference to section 293(2)(a), which states that the board shall not grant a permission under that section that materially contravenes the national marine planning framework or the maritime spatial plan. There is no mention of city or county development plans in that subsection. While there are large areas of the marine in respect of which there will be nothing in the city or county development plan that would be relevant, there could well be something in aspects of it. Therefore, some mention of the city and county development plans in this section would be appropriate.

As for amendment No. 239, we had long conversations during pre-legislative scrutiny and engagement with various sectors earlier in the proceedings on the Bill about trying to ensure employment benefits and positive impacts on the local economy, not just, for example, if there are construction works or activity but for the longer-term benefit. Deputy Gould and I, therefore, propose to insert an additional subsection (p) that would ask the board to give consideration to applying conditions on those local employment benefits and positive impacts on the local economy.

Amendment No. 238 seeks to provide in section 293(2)(a) that, subject to section 293(2)(b), the board shall not grant a permission under this section that would materially contravene a city or county development plan in addition to the national marine planning framework. There are fundamental technical issues surrounding this amendment. First, the purpose of section 293(2) is to ensure that the board must not materially contravene the national marine planning framework except in very specific circumstances. This ensures a level of consistency in decision-making across the entire maritime area and ensures that decisions in respect of the State's maritime area are made in accordance with a plan passed by the Oireachtas. Given the conversations we had on Parts 1 and 2, where every policy or plan was to be approved by the Oireachtas, the Deputies' approach here surprises us somewhat.

The amendment, even if it were worded appropriately, would place a county development plan at the same level in the plan hierarchy as the national marine planning framework. This would be entirely inappropriate from a policy perspective, not only because the framework is a national plan but also because the development plan is a land-based plan. The national marine planning framework was subject to a significant development and consultation process, as set out in the document itself. In the amendment as worded, however, the Deputies have not referred to the particular plan that should have this effect in what particular area.

For instance, the development plan for an inland county could be binding on the board in respect of a site 100 km off the west coast. Notwithstanding this, as the Deputies are no doubt aware, section 308 of the Bill, as proposed, in effect limits the jurisdiction of development plans to land above the high-water mark. Development plans have no jurisdiction in the maritime area.

However, section 293(3)(e) obliges the board to have regard to any relevant development plans of coastal local authorities. These circumstances would include development on coastal sites that may be adjacent to land that is subject to special local objectives and in that respect, local democracy has its role in this process. Moreover, the DMAP provisions, as discussed, can be used as an effective tool for local plans in the maritime area in the nearshores of coastal local authorities, as we have discussed in previous hearings. DMAPs will, of course, form part of the national marine planning framework having regard to section 2 of this Bill.

Amendment No. 239 seeks to provide that the board can attach a condition or conditions to a permission for development under this section in respect of construction and operation requiring local employment benefits and positive impact on the local economy.

While I acknowledge the Deputies’ intentions here, there are some fundamental technical issues with the amendment as it is worded. First, there is no definition of “local economy”. Therefore, for instance would a condition be applied to a development that is located a significant distance from the coast? These limitations are important in primary legislation if it is to be robust and defensible. What would be defined as being a positive impact on the local economy? What are local employment benefits? We should avoid value judgments in technical drafting as a rule, yet both these phrases imply an element of judgment, meaning that any such condition would be open to challenge.

Second, many of the technologies employed in the construction of larger offshore installations are highly specialised and can only be sourced internationally, meaning that the skills and labour may not be available locally. This makes a condition such as this difficult to apply in all circumstances, however well-intentioned. Indeed, it is questionable whether such conditions should be applied in all circumstances; rather they should be applied where the circumstances warrant it.

We appreciate the intention to provide for community gain and we have sought, in a manner consistent with the existing SID provisions, to provide for a broader provision in section 293(7)(n). In addition to this, in respect of offshore energy production, all onshore and offshore projects supported via RESS are required to contribute €2 per MWh of energy produced to community benefit funds and these funds are activated several years prior to project energisation, offsetting disturbance during the construction stages.

Furthermore, the use of local employment clauses in construction contracts can be appropriately channelled through environmental impact assessment reports, EIARs, and mitigation proposed therein. This has been the approach taken on SID applications in the past. What could actively promote the use of such clauses would be to explore how they can be targeted at particular types of developments in particular areas through the development and application of the guidelines being proposed under this Bill. This would ensure that such clauses are considered from the outset rather than attached as an ad hoc condition at the end of the application process. Indeed, one could envisage that it might even be a mandatory policy requirement of those guidelines that the applicant puts forward for consideration by the board appropriate local employment benefit proposals for any areas on land affected by a particular aspect of a development. These things need to be looked at closely and I would invite the Deputies to get involved in that.

In essence, I am saying that the idea being promoted by the Deputies is laudable and we understand the intention. I am supportive of the overarching objective but there is more than one way to achieve what they desire here.

I do not believe for a moment that the Minister of State was surprised by the intention of the first amendment, nor am I surprised by his response. I mean that in good humour.

In respect of amendment No. 238, I ask the Minister of State and his officials to read the recent High Court judgment on an ongoing dispute between the provisions of the county development plan and central government statutory policy with respect to a retail shopping centre in Cork. I will not discuss the issue because it has almost concluded its High Court proceedings. I mention that because there has been a growing tension between the local democratic legitimacy of the county development plans, for example, and various attempts, sometimes for good sometimes for bad, to try to streamline, centralise, or standardise planning rules at a central level.

The Minister of State is right: city and county development plans have very little to say about the overwhelming majority of the marine. Therefore, this does not become important with respect to those areas. My concern is precisely the example the Minister of State gave at the end where there might be a conflict with a specific local objective. At that point there is a question about which set of guidelines or which plan has primacy. Is it the marine planning framework and the marine spatial plan or the city and county development plans? The courts are beginning to take a view that it is not as straightforward as the Minister of State or his predecessors outlined. It would be a mistake to assume that that might not continue to be the trend. Part of the purpose of the amendment was to make the point that the Minister of State needs to consider that very carefully; I did not expect him to support it.

I also wish to speak about the second amendment. While I know I am sounding like a broken record, if we had the resources the Minister of State has, our amendments would be much more technically proficient and adept.

It is not meant in that way.

I understand that.

The purpose of the amendment is to urge the Minister of State to find some more technically proficient and appropriate way to address this issue on Report Stage. If it is left too much to the discretion of the developer's engagement, we might get good outcomes or we might not. If it is left solely to local lobbying, albeit very well-intentioned, by local authority members, Deputies or community groups we may get results or we may not. Given the significant benefits to private investors from these successful projects, in addition to the tax liabilities of the State, local communities which may feel discommoded or excluded from those benefits have a right to get something additional.

The Minister of State is right in saying we do not have the skills for much of the labour involved both in construction and in operation. Therefore, one of the economic contributions for consideration under a plan could be the contribution to a fund managed by MARA to train people in coastal communities to be able to take advantage of those new jobs. The Minister of State is right that a local labour clause, if it is limited to people from a geographical area, would absolutely be in contravention of several EU laws. The State has employed what are effectively local labour clauses in Grangegorman, for example, but it uses things like the live register or other access points into those employment benefits that are not deemed discriminatory under EU law. I urge the Minister of State and his officials to look at that again.

It would be terrible to have large-scale offshore investment producing very good-quality renewable wind energy which is a benefit potentially to the taxpayer centrally but coastal communities feel they are not getting direct access to some of the benefits for the long term. That would be a shame. If the Minister of State agrees with the intention of the amendment, perhaps he could come back on Report Stage with some suggestions as to how to achieve its objectives.

I support the spirit of these amendments. The county development plan does not relate to anything beyond the high-water mark. The Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council county development plan has objectives, priorities and so on for Dún Laoghaire Harbour. It could as easily be Bullock Harbour, Galway Harbour or Cork Harbour.

How does all this impact on that? We fought quite hard to get Dún Laoghaire Harbour integrated into the local authority. It was previously managed separately by a harbour company. That caused significant problems due to divergent objectives. We now have, at least in theory, the possibility of having an integrated approach between the county and the harbour, which is a very important asset for us, as I am sure the harbours of towns and villages across the country are. How then do these two things relate to each other? Will the Minister of State explain that?

I am not sure whether this is the section where I should raise this issue but the Minister of State referred to it there. I ask for the Chairman's direction on that. In this section we are dealing with, and I am pretty sure the Minister of State referred to it, permission may be granted where the national marine planning framework or maritime spatial plan is materially contravened. There are conditions where permission may be granted. I must express concern about that. It states the conditions under which this might happen are if: "the proposed development is of strategic, economic or social importance to the State" and where they may be conflicting objectives, essentially, that are "ambiguous" in the national marine planning framework or the maritime spatial plan. That just opens everything up. Anything goes then, potentially. We have all these safeguards, all these plans and we have this framework but then, actually, anything goes if it is considered to be "... of strategic, economic or social importance to the State". Alternatively, I can tell the Minister of State that from looking at the marine planning framework, it would not be difficult to construe multiple competing objectives in the same maritime space. Then we are into a situation where literally anything goes and it is about whoever happens to be making the decision at the time and whatever his or her particular prejudices might be. Will the Minister of State respond to those concerns?

As a final point, I refer to the benefits and impacts for the local economy, communities and so on. That is absolutely imperative. There is nothing that frustrates people more. By the way, I do not think there is anything discriminatory in it. It would be discriminatory if we set religious or ethnic conditions or if we were saying there were particular natives or something. If we are talking about benefits to the local community and people who live in that area, as long as it is done on a non-discriminatory basis it is critically important there are benefits and employment benefits of developments which may be impacting on that area. It is an entirely laudable and legitimate aspiration. Maybe the Minister of State could set out what his thoughts are on how we are going to achieve that. Does he agree that is what we should be trying to achieve? If it is, what is he intending to do to try to achieve that?

I will begin with Deputy Ó Broin and amendment No. 239. As I said, I agree with the spirit of the amendment but when you look at primary legislation and introduce subjectivity and something that can be challenged, you introduce uncertainty into the process. As I was saying, we will potentially have a look at it through guidelines. We absolutely agree with the merit of it and want to try to protect local communities, and obviously the local economy, as best we can.

In response to Deputy Boyd Barrett, on the county development plan and guidelines which may be in connection with a coastal county, you may have discretionary guidelines, in the first instance, for development. Second, I have very clearly outlined the provisions of section 293(3)(e) where the board must have regard to coastal local authority plans. Third, the critical point we must be very clear on is the county development plan does not have jurisdiction past the high-water mark. I want to be very clear about that point.

Moving on to the provisions whereby plans may be contravened, this is the exact same process that is in our terrestrial planning system. They obviously must be used only very rarely and must stand up in that a sound case must be put forward for them. The board of MARA, having the required skill set, will be able to adjudicate on that. We expect this to be very rare, in line with our terrestrial planning and An Bord Pleanála.

I apologise. Will the Minister of State repeat that last comment? I am trying to keep track of several issues here.

It is the exact same process as is available in our terrestrial planning system with respect to national plans being contravened on very rare occasions. Obviously, the board must make a determination on that and it is held accountable for same. It is rare and the case must be very significant for this to be done.

How is the board held accountable, just as a matter of interest?

Through the courts.

Does Deputy Boyd Barrett want to finish off his points? Then I can bring Deputy Ó Broin in.

There is the planning regulator as well.

Let Deputy Ó Broin in.

I want to comment on that last point because Deputy Boyd Barrett is absolutely right. The concern I have is the frequency of very significant decisions by An Bord Pleanála with respect to terrestrial planning applications where there is dispute over which has precedence, national planning guidelines or local county and city development plans. They have been increasing and there is now a precedent over about five cases. One relates to strategic development zones, SDZs, the other relates to retail strategies. The assumption central Government had had up until this point was that a national planning framework terrestrially took precedence, or ministerial guidelines - and this document has much to say about those - take precedence but the courts have found that is not the case on at least five occasions. They are unique and may or may not be comparable to the kind of decisions we are dealing with here. All I would urge the Minister of State to do is be conscious that although central Government says the national planning framework, the marine planning framework and ministerial guidelines take precedence, the courts are not agreeing with that at the moment. With some of the cases, my non-legal opinion is I am sympathetic to the court's decision and with other cases I am not so sympathetic to their decision. However, the courts' trend at the moment suggests this is more complicated than the Minister of State's answer has suggested. To go back to the point we have made from the start, what we do not want is want much-needed offshore wind to be locked into interminable judicial reviews at the High Court, the Court of Appeal and up into the Supreme Court. We want good-quality planning decisions at the outset. I emphasise that to the Minister of State.

Deputy Boyd Barrett on the same point.

I will start with the question on the harbour etc. In the current system, a county development plan, where it has certain strategic objectives or priorities for something like Dún Laoghaire harbour, does not actually carry any legal weight. Is that correct? That it is subject-----

If it is in an area-----

-----and now that is going to carry over.

It absolutely stands to reason if it is an area that has no jurisdiction over it, then it cannot carry legal weight but it can have discretionary policies. It carries weight within its jurisdiction, essentially.

However, its jurisdiction does not extend into the foreshore-----

Absolutely not.

-----under the current system. It requires foreshore permission and that is going to be replaced by the DMAP. Okay.

I want to express concern about the second point - the conditions under which you can breach the marine planning framework or the spatial plan, where it is deemed strategic. The SHD process has been very widely discredited to the point that the Government has agreed, notwithstanding a delay, to drop it and replace it with something else although it is not clear what that will be. The reference to "strategic, economic or social importance" worries me and I want to signal that. I think it worries people because it can become a blank cheque for doing things that people do not feel are beneficial if the Government decides at some point that they are strategically important or of benefit, even if it might be argued afterwards that they did the opposite or completely failed to achieve those strategic objectives. It leaves things quite open to subjective assessments of what is strategic.

I thank members for those observations. Amendments Nos. 234 to 246, inclusive, are in this grouping.

Amendment No. 240 proposes a new subsection (9), which provides that the board can attach to a planning permission for development in the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority, or in the outer maritime area, a condition that the person to whom the permission is granted agree points of detail with the coastal planning authority or with the board. If agreement cannot be reached with a coastal planning authority, the coastal planning authority can refer the matter to the board for determination. In the case of a permission that the board has determined, the board has the ultimate say.

This provision is related to amendment No. 221. The initiated text resulted in a situation where applications on land could have these types of conditions applied to them and applications in the maritime area could not. Clearly this anomalous situation could not be permeated into the final system and this amendment seeks to address this. The primary difference in this amendment relates to what happens in the outer maritime area, where there is of course no local planning authority. I would highlight to Deputies who are unfamiliar with the land-based planning system that such conditions are utilised frequently to address points of detail post planning and there is a great deal of precedent established as to what they can and cannot be used for. Any significant or material changes to consented developments will have to go through the processes set out in section 297, as happens at present with SID development permissions.

Amendment No. 241, as proposed by Deputy Higgins seeks, to provide that conditions can be attached to a planning permission providing that points of detail may be agreed between the MARA and the person carrying out the development. In amendment No. 240 I have proposed a related amendment, in which points of detail would be agreed between the person granted permission and the coastal planning authority or the board as the case may be; the primary difference being the absence of the MARA in my amendment. This is because the MARA has no formal role in the environmental decision-making process for development applications, as has been said previously. I would suggest that my own amendment is preferable, if Deputy Higgins is in agreement. In any event, what the Deputy is proposing here that has the same effect as my own amendment. I suggest to the Deputy that in this respect we are aligned and her intention has been satisfied.

Amendment No. 242 is a technical amendment to section 297(2) to expand the list of things that must accompany an application to alter the terms of a permission granted under section 297. These additional mandatory items from the initiated text are plans or drawings – the initiated text did not specify these; the prescribed fee for processing the application; and an environmental impact assessment report, if the proposal has already been screened in for such purposes. In addition to the mandatory requirements, this amendment further provides that the applicant may submit certain materials at the application stage, including an environmental impact assessment report or a Natura impact statement. In effect, this allows the applicant to pre-empt the screening determination by the board in respect of these assessments and would allow the board to consider these reports in the first instance. This is a common occurrence in regular planning applications and does not presuppose the outcome of any screening. Instead, it allows applicants to submit the relevant documents where they are sure any alterations would be screened in for environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment.

Amendment No. 243 is a technical drafting amendment and is related to amendment No. 242. The purpose of this amendment to section 297(5)(d) is to expand on what is included in the definition of "relevant materials" in this section. In essence, it allows the board to take into consideration all of the things submitted by the applicant in the first instance as set out in amendment No. 242, including any environmental impact assessment report or a Natura impact statement.

Amendment No. 245 is a technical drafting amendment to delete the word "and" in order to accommodate amendment No. 246.

Amendment No. 246 is a technical drafting amendment. The purpose of this amendment is to add "relevant materials", as defined in section 297(5), to the list of things the board shall have regard to when performing its functions in relation to a requested alteration that is a material alteration. This amendment is related to amendments Nos. 242 and 243.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 235 not moved.

I move amendment No. 236:

In page 151, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:

“(1A) The Board shall—

(a) make the application available on the website of the Board within 2 working days of it being received, and

(b) make any related documents to the application, correspondence and submissions available online as soon as is practical and no later than 3 days after they are received or sent by the Board.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 237 and 238 not moved.

I move amendment No. 239:

In page 162, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

“(p) conditions on construction and operation requiring local employment benefits and positive impact on the local economy, and”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 240:

In page 162, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

“(9)(a) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4), the Board may, in addition to any condition attached (in accordance with subsection (7)) to a permission for development proposed to be situated in the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority, attach to that permission a condition that the person who carries out the development agree matters of detail with the coastal planning authority and the Board relating to compliance with the permission, and if agreement cannot be reached in relation to any such matter by that person with the coastal planning authority and the Board within such period as may be specified in the condition, the Board shall determine the matter.

(b) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4), the Board may, in addition to any condition attached (in accordance with subsection (7)) to a permission for development proposed to be situated in the outer maritime area, attach to that permission a condition that the person who carries out the development agree matters of detail with the Board relating to compliance with the permission, and if agreement cannot be reached in relation to any such matter by that person with the Board within such period as may be specified in the condition, the Board shall determine the matter.”.

Amendment agreed to.

The Minister of State seems to have addressed amendment No. 241 in his amendment No. 240. I am sorry that I did not call Deputy Higgins to speak on that earlier.

I move amendment No. 241:

In page 162, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

"(9) The conditions attached under this section to a permission may provide that points of detail relating to the grant of the permission maybe agreed between the MARA and the person carrying out the development; in reaching such agreement the MARA shall consult with any coastal planning authority or authorities in whose functional area or areas the development will be situate; if MARA and that person cannot agree on the matter the matter may be referred to the Board for determination.".

Apologies, I was in the Chamber. I see that the Minister of State's amendment deals with much of the sentiment behind my amendment so I am happy to withdraw it on that basis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 242:

In page 166, to delete lines 37 to 39, and in page 167, to delete lines 1 to 6 and substitute the following:

“(2) (a) A request under subsection (1) shall—

(i) be accompanied by—

(I) a document in writing specifying the particulars of the requested alteration,

(II) such plans or drawings relating to the requested alteration as the Board may specify,

(III) such other information (if any) as the Board may specify in the course of any consultation under section 296 relating to the requested alteration, and

(IV) such fee as may be prescribed,

(ii) if required by the Board, be accompanied by the information specified in Schedule 7A to the Regulations of 2001 in relation to the requested alteration,

(iii) if required by the Board, be accompanied by an environmental impact assessment report prepared in respect of the requested alteration, and

(iv) if required by the Board, be accompanied by a Natura impact statement prepared in respect of the requested alteration.

(b) A requesting person may submit any one or more of the following documents with a request under subsection (1):

(i) the information specified in Schedule 7A to the Regulations of 2001 in relation to the requested alteration even if not the subject of a requirement to which subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) applies;

(ii) such information as the requesting person considers the Board might require to enable it to carry out a screening for appropriate assessment in respect of the requested alteration in accordance with section 177U,

(iii) an environmental impact assessment report prepared in respect of the requested alteration even if not the subject of a requirement to which subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (a) applies;

(iv) a Natura impact statement prepared in respect of the requested alteration even if not the subject of a requirement to which subparagraph (iv) of paragraph (a) applies.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 243:

In page 167, to delete lines 37 to 40, and in page 168, to delete lines 1 to 5 and substitute the following:

“(d) In this subsection ‘relevant materials’ means—

(i) the requested alteration,

(ii) the document referred to in clause (I) of subparagraph (i) of paragraph (a) of subsection (2),

(iii) plans or drawings referred to in clause (II) of that subparagraph,

(iv) any information referred to in clause (III) of that subparagraph,

(v) any information, report or statement that was the subject of a requirement referred to in subparagraph (ii), (iii) or (iv) of the said paragraph (a),

(vi) any document submitted in accordance with paragraph (b) of subsection (2), and

(vii) in relation to the performance by the Board of its functions under, or referred to in, paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection, any submissions or observations made pursuant to an invitation under subsection (4).”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 244 not moved.

I move amendment No. 245:

In page 170, line 31, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 246:

In page 170, to delete lines 32 to 34 and substitute the following:

“(n) the extent to which the development has already been advanced (if at all) in accordance with the permission granted in respect thereof under section 293, and

(o) relevant materials within the meaning of subsection (5) of section 297.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 247 and 248 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 247:

In page 173, lines 35 and 36, to delete “30 days” and substitute “56 days”.

These amendments relate to section 302 and the submission and notification of environmental impact assessment, EIA, reports and Natura impact statements. The first amendment simply seeks to extend the number of days that the EIA would be available for public display. Thirty days is a relatively short period. We are talking about coastal areas. The people interested might not necessarily be close to Dublin or have the ability to get to the relevant office in Dublin to access the assessments. Thirty days is too short.

Amendment No. 248 returns to the issue of ensuring that the application and further or additional information submitted on the application will be available on the application website and the website of the board. We discussed the issue earlier but we think this is particularly important given how significant EIAs and Natura impact statements are, and their centrality to the biodiversity and environmental protection of the marine that we have been raising throughout this debate.

I will speak to amendment No. 248. Having that information available on the board's website is a good idea. I want to clarify something the Minister of State said earlier about the information being kept on the portal and the requirement for that information to be online. He referred to the information being captured on the marine portal. Is that requirement specified in the Bill?

It is. I can check which section that is in.

I thought that was the case but I was not 100% sure. Amendment No. 247 proposes timelines for strategic infrastructure developments, SIDs. These are potentially large and complex applications as they relate to the marine environment. There is a lot of information that people do not know about. It is somewhat easier to deal with a planning application for the terrestrial environment in respect of knowledge and know-how. Those applications do not need the same level of expertise in getting the information together for something happening in the marine environment. We do not want inordinately long periods involved because we have to have movement and these are pressing issues, but the period referred to is the minimum required to ensure proper consultation about the complex issues that are considered. I would be fearful of losing information if we do not have that longer time period. I have made the general point that information from public consultation can be very beneficial to a project and its success. There is often knowledge in the wider community that the developers and their consultants or engineers do not have. That information can often come out through the consultation process from the local fishing community or other people who have knowledge that may not be captured otherwise in the process. Issues can then be dealt with as part of the process and that can then lead to the success of the project. If that is not captured and dealt with in the process because there is not enough time, it may cause issues with development and things can get derailed. This should be seen as ensuring the process is strong enough to capture all those issues to lead to more robust outcomes.

The points have largely been made. This is about allowing for a period longer than 30 days for the public to inspect the EIA or the Natura impact statement. We all know that the public often feel these projects pass them by before they have a chance to know about, consider and inspect them. It is a reasonable provision to try to ensure that level of public participation in the process.

I thank the Deputies for their comments. Regarding the conditions attaching to the pre-application stage for a MAC, we set a clear process for public engagement, which will make a big difference. That is an innovative direction we are taking.

Amendment No. 247 seeks to increase the period during which members of the public may inspect a copy of the EIA report for not less than 30 days to not less than 56 days. The Deputies are proposing what we feel is an excessive timeline for the submission period on the documents referred to which are, in effect, a revision of the existing documents to account for any changes in measurable impacts arising from a proposed alteration to an already consented development. The timelines set out here are reflective of the requirements of Article 6 of the EIA directive, as added to in 2014. The suggestion here is that the Bill potentially would be inconsistent with that directive. What is being proposed may lead to a full rerun of the application process rather than an amendment procedure. Moreover, this would render the timeline inconsistent with the SID procedures and result in a situation where an application that incorporates part of the maritime site would have a different timeline than one wholly on land, something which we cannot accept.

Amendment No. 248 seeks to provide that a copy of the application and any further or additional information submitted to the application subsequently will be available on the application website and on the website of the board. We feel this provision is not necessary having regard to my proposed amendment to Schedule 12 to ensure the applicability of section 146 to applications to the board under section 297. This is similar to the earlier amendment No. 236.

I do not know how many sets of numbers there were there.

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. I will ask for a quick clarification on amendment No. 248. Will his amendment ensure all documentation relating to this will be for future reference available on the portal or where will it be available and accessible if not on the board's site? I will pick up on a point made by Deputy O'Callaghan. The types of developments, particularly large offshore wind developments, are not similar to regular planning applications. They are much more akin to SIDs. In fact, it is arguable that they are SIDs, given their strategic importance to our renewable energy targets. If 56 days is an acceptable time period, for example, for a flyover on the N7 at Newlands Cross in my constituency as part of an SID, why would the same time not be allowed for something that could be much bigger and impact a far greater number of people and have far greater levels of technical documentation? I do not understand the reluctance. It is a short amount of additional time that could make a considerable difference in terms of public knowledge and participation by allowing them time to consider the documentation involved.

I thank the Deputy. I am advised by my officials that the answer to his first question is that all information will be on the portal. On the second aspect relating to the number of days, I am advised that 30 days is a floor and it can go beyond that. The legislation does not preclude that.

That is not what the Bill states. It does not state 30 days is a floor; it states that the period involved is 30 days.

It does not preclude the period from going beyond that.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 3; Níl, 6.

  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.

Níl

  • Burke, Peter.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 248:

In page 174, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

"(iiia) that a copy of the application, and any further or additional information submitted on the application subsequently will be available on the application website and on the website of the Board,".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 249 to 263, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 249:

In page 179, line 6, to delete “Chapter,” and substitute “Chapter”.

This is a technical drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to delete the comma after "Chapter".

Amendment No. 250 is a technical drafting amendment to delineate more clearly what the section will provide. It ensures the provisions listed will not apply in the maritime area. It slightly changes the layout to include subsections (a) and (b), and to list separately every relevant section in subsection (b) rather than include a cumulative list as in the initiated text. It also adds Part XIII (Amenities) to the list of provisions in the Planning and Development Act that will not apply in the maritime area. This does not mean the amenities will not be protected in the maritime area but rather that Part XIII of the Bill will not apply. Amenities in the maritime area will, of course, be addressed in the national marine planning framework, including DMAPs prepared thereunder. In fact, all the forward planning aspects of the maritime area are to be covered under the Bill rather than in any existing parts of the Planning and Development Acts, as that is the primary purpose of the Bill.

The overall effect of this provision, in simple terms, is to ensure these Parts and sections will not be applied to maritime developments through the extension of the functional areas of coastal planning authorities into their nearshores. Fundamentally, the provisions referred to in this section either are provided for in this Bill or will be accommodated through the forward planning provisions such as the marine spatial plans and DMAPs.

Amendment No. 251 is a technical drafting amendment and is similar to amendment No. 250 in that it will amend the syntax to deploy more appropriately the provision, as advised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. It will not alter the initiated text to have a different effect from that already drafted.

Amendment No. 252 is a technical drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to delete “State Property Act 1954” and substitute “Act of 1954”, given the definition has been provided elsewhere in the Planning Act, as proposed in amendment No. 254. The purpose of amendment No. 254 is to include in this subsection a definition for “Act of 1954” as referred to in other amendments.

I might ask a question on amendment No. 254. I appreciate these are technical amendments but I am always wary of technical amendments because they can have a wider import than is obvious to us when reading them. On the inclusion of subsection (7) in amendment No. 254, what is the rationale for or, more important, the impact of including that in this section?

I am advised it is a definition of "land".

Yes, but there is a reason that is included in this section and I presume there is a rationale for its inclusion.

I am advised it is included in section 309 is to make clear the State Property Act is being referred to in the context of land.

Why is that necessary at that point?

My officials tell me we were advised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to include it there.

The office did not give a rationale as to why it should be in that part of the Bill.

We are not aware of it but we will revert to the Deputy on it.

Even a written answer would be perfect. I thank the Minister of State.

Turning to amendment No. 253, the purpose of this new subsection (6) is to provide that a local authority will not be able to compulsorily acquire a maritime site, by virtue of the operation of this section, if title to it is vested in a Minister of the Government under section 5 of the State Property Act 1954. This is to avoid conflicts between the new MAC system being established and CPO powers. It will not prohibit local authorities from acquiring land in the maritime area but will prevent them from engaging in a CPO in respect of same.

The purpose of amendment No. 255 is to provide more precisely for the construction of references to proper planning and sustainable development as being references to maritime spatial planning. It is also the purpose of this amendment to provide more precisely for the construction of references to principles of proper planning and sustainable development as being references to objectives of maritime spatial planning. In essence, while this provision exists in the initiated text, the revised wording provides for better and more exact drafting as advised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. All of this means that, where the local authority or the board is dealing with a maritime site, it must apply the maritime-specific considerations set out in respect of sustainable development and better reflect the requirements of the MSP directive.

The purpose of amendment No. 256 is to provide more precisely for the construction of references to the national planning framework as being references to the national marine planning framework. The amendments to the syntax are related to those proposed under amendment No. 255. This provision, in general, will allow the board or the coastal planning authority to read a reference to the national planning framework as being the national marine planning framework in the context of dealing with a maritime site. The specific required exclusions to this reading of the national marine planning framework are also provided.

I have another technical question. With respect to the reference to proper planning and sustainable development, which, of course, we all support, where and how are they defined? They are inserted in amendment No. 256, but against what are they measured or defined for the purposes of the Bill?

I understand they are defined in the Planning and Development Act as they apply to land but we will get a written response to clarify the exact wording.

In the context of the Planning and Development Act and those definitions referring to land, the marine environment is different from land. Proper planning and sustainable development in a marine environment is different from that on land. The architecture around it is quite different.

We are expanding the definition to include the marine environment as well, as far as I understand, but we will revert to the committee with a written response on it.

I thank the Minister of State.

Amendment No. 257 is in a similar vein to amendments Nos. 255 and 256.

The purpose of this amendment to section 312(1) is to more precisely provide for the construction of references to "a development plan or the development plan" as being references to the national marine planning framework in respect of a maritime site. In effect, the listed relevant provisions at Part II of Schedule 9 are where, in relation to a maritime site, “development plan” will be read as meaning the national marine planning framework.

The purpose of amendment No. 258 is to confirm that this section applies to development wholly or partly in the outer maritime area. This ensures that for the purposes of a section 5 referral - declaration on exempted development - An Bord Pleanála is not confined to considering only that part of a proposed development that is situated in the outer maritime area. This is purely an avoidance of doubt measure and it will be up to the applicant to determine what question is being asked of either the board or a relevant coastal planning authority.

Amendment No. 259 is a technical, drafting amendment, which seeks to insert, at the commencement of section 317(1) "Subject to section 289," before "Part X". The reason for this is that the board has already been granted its screening powers under section 289 and the initiated text would have resulted in a doubling up of those provisions.

Amendment 260 is a technical, drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to delete "a planning authority" and substitute "planning authority". There is no other material impact.

The purpose of amendment No. 261 is, for technical and drafting reasons, to provide that 'excluded provisions' are expanded to include the listed sections. These references need to be excluded for procedural reasons as follows: section 175 refers to local authority development and is not needed here; section 173(1) and (2) refer to appeals and are not relevant to Chapter III; section 173C(9) relates to applications to the coastal planning authority and are not relevant to Chapter III and section 174(1) and (2) already refer to the board appropriately and are not needed. Similarly, the references to section 172 are necessary as the board is already appropriately referenced here already.

Amendment No. 262 inserts a new section 320 into the Bill. The related amendment No. 263 seeks to delete the existing sections. For clarity, I will deal amendment No. 263 separately. Effectively, these new sections provide coastal planning authorities and the board the power to consult with the MARA with respect to the eligibility of the applicant to apply for planning permission in the first instance, but it is not limited to this. The reason for this is that the planning authorities need to be sure the applicant is eligible to apply for permission having regard to the MAC requirements. Moreover, there may be specific conditions to the relevant MAC that the planning authorities should be aware of when assessing the applications. This amendment is relatively straightforward. I am sure the Deputies will agree it is a useful provision.

I am dealing with amendment No. 304 with amendment No. 263 as they are related and should be read together for completeness.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Amendment No. 263 is a technical drafting amendment. The purpose of the amendment is, for technical and drafting reasons, to delete the current sections 320 and 321. There are replacement powers provided for elsewhere to ensure the MARA can carry out the functions referred to in the deleted sections. A similar provision is provided in the amendment proposed for page 227 of the Bill, being the insertion of a new subsection (1A) into section 157 at amendment No. 304 and the powers of authorised officers at amendment No. 209, already approved. I can assure Deputies that I am not diluting the powers of the MARA, but I have redrafted the Bill to accommodate the powers elsewhere. For drafting purposes, I am reusing the vacant sections remaining here.

Amendment No. 304 is an amendment to Schedule 12 of the Bill - the direct amendments to the Planning Act. The purpose of this amendment to section 157 of the PDA, prosecution of offences, is to insert subsection (1A) providing that summary proceedings for an offence under Part VIII of the PDA may be brought and prosecuted by the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority whether or not the offence is committed in the maritime area. This relates to a previous deletion at amendment and gives the MARA the power to pursue offences such as the non-compliance with an enforcement notice, which technically takes place where the notice has been served and not in the maritime area. It effectively replaces the deleted section 321.

The Minister of State mentioned that he would provide written clarification in regard to an earlier question. If he could also set out within that written clarification how the section on sustainable development relates to section 72(2), which references principles of proper management of maritime area and sustainable usage, I would appreciate it.

I would be happy to do that.

I thank the Minister of State.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 250:

In page 179, to delete lines 12 to 23 and substitute the following:

“308. (1) The following provisions shall not apply in relation to the maritime area, and accordingly references in those provisions to functional area, administrative area or area of a planning authority or local authority shall not include references to the nearshore area of a coastal planning authority:

(a) Parts II (other than sections 28, 29 and 30), IIA, IV, V, IX, XIII and XVI; and

(b) sections 37A, 37B, 37C, 37D, 37E, 37F, 37G, 37H, 37I, 37J, 37K, 37L, 37M, 37N, 37O, 37P, 37Q, 37R, 37S, 261, 261A and 266.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 251:

In page 179, to delete lines 35 to 37, and in page 180, to delete lines 1 to 3 and substitute the following:

“309. (1) The relevant provisions shall apply to—

(a) maritime development,

(b) proposed maritime development, and

(c) the maritime area,

as if references to land or the land were references to a maritime site.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 252:

In page 180, line 12, to delete “State Property Act 1954” and substitute “Act of 1954”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 253:

In page 180, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

“(6) A power conferred on a local authority by a relevant provision (by virtue of the operation of this section) to compulsorily acquire a maritime site shall not apply to a maritime site that vests in a Minister of the Government by virtue of section 5 of the Act of 1954.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 254:

In page 180, to delete lines 19 to 21 and substitute the following:

“(7) In this section—

‘Act of 1954’ means the State Property Act 1954; and

‘relevant provision’ means a provision of this Act specified in Part 1 of the Ninth Schedule (inserted by section 168 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 255:

In page 180, to delete lines 23 to 38 and substitute the following:

“310. (1) Subject to section 308, this Act (other than this Part and paragraph (b)of subsection (1) of section 31Q) shall apply to—

(a) maritime development,

(b) proposed maritime development, and

(c) the maritime area,

as if references to proper planning and sustainable development were references to maritime spatial planning.

(2) Subject to section 308, this Act (other than this Part) and paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of section 179) shall apply to—

(a) maritime development,

(b) proposed maritime development, and

(c) the maritime area,

as if references to principles of proper planning and sustainable development were references to objectives of maritime spatial planning.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 256:

In page 180, to delete line 40, and in page 181, to delete lines 1 to 6 and substitute the following:

“311. (1) Subject to section 308, this Act (other than this Part, section 178A, subsection (18) of section 12, subsection (14) of section 13 and paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of section 179) shall apply to—

(a) maritime development,

(b) proposed maritime development, and

(c) the maritime area,

as if references to the National Planning Framework were references to the National Marine Planning Framework.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 257:

In page 181, to delete lines 8 to 14 and substitute the following:

“312. (1) The relevant provisions shall apply to—

(a) maritime development,

(b) proposed maritime development, and

(c) the maritime area,

as if references to a development plan or the development plan were references to the National Marine Planning Framework.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 258:

In page 181, line 32, to delete “development in the outer maritime area” and substitute “development situated wholly or partly in the outer maritime area”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 259:

In page 182, line 12, to delete “Part X” and substitute “Subject to section 289, Part X”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 260:

In page 182, line 24, to delete “a planning authority” and substitute “planning authority”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 261:

In page 182, to delete lines 32 to 36 and substitute the following:

“(2) In this section ‘excluded provision’ means—

(a) section 175,

(b) subsections (1) and (2) of section 173,

(c) subsection (9) of section 173C,

(d) subsections (1) and (2) of section 174, and

(e) paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (3), and subsection (4), of section 172.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 262:

In page 183, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

“Consultation by coastal planning authority with Maritime Area Regulatory Authority

320. (1) A coastal planning authority may consult with the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority for the purposes of this Part.

(2) A coastal planning authority may, for the purpose of the performance of its functions under Part III and this Part, request the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority to provide the coastal planning authority with such information (including information in relation to an applicant for permission for development referred to in subsection (3) of section 281) as is in the possession, or procurement, of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority.

(3) The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority shall accede to a request under subsection (2).

Consultation by Board with Maritime Area Regulatory Authority

321. (1) The Board may consult with the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority for the purposes of this Part.

(2) The Board may, for the purpose of the performance of its functions under this Part, request the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority to provide the Board with such information (including information in relation to an applicant under section 291 or requesting person within the meaning of Chapter III) as is in the possession, or procurement, of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority.

(3) The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority shall accede to a request under subsection (2).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 263:

In page 183, to delete lines 30 to 42, and in page 184, to delete lines 1 to 22.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 166, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 167 to 169, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 170

Amendments Nos. 264 to 266, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 264:

In page 186, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“(c) in the case of any other foreshore authorisation under section 3, the coming into operation of Part 5 of the Act of 2021;”.

I ask the Minister of State to respond.

If I understand it correctly the intention of amendment No. 264 is to ensure that once the MARA licensing regime is operational, licence applications under the Foreshore Act cease. If that is the case the text as initiated already provides for this.

It is the intention that relevant parts of the Maritime Area Planning Bill, MAP, Bill will be commenced in tandem to ensure a smooth transition from one regime to the other. On foot of my explanation, the Deputy may consider withdrawing his amendment.

I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 170 agreed to.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No. 265:

In page 186, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 1A of Act of 1933

171. Section 1A of the Act of 1933 is amended by the addition of the following subsection after subsection (2)—

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (1), for the purpose of a licence pursuant to section 3 of this Act in respect of:

(i) Marine surveys for the purposes of scientific research; and

(ii) Marine surveys for the purposes of site investigations or in support of an application under Part XXI of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the outer limit of the foreshore shall be deemed to extend to the outer limit of the continental shelf.”.

Amendment No. 265 proposes to extend the outer limit of the foreshore to the continental shelf to enable foreshore licence applications to be made for site investigation activities beyond the foreshore. As the foreshore is vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, under the State Property Act accepting this amendment would have the effect of extending Ireland's ownership to the entire maritime area. This would be in breach of international law, which only allows such territorial claims out to the 12 nautical mile limit. On foot of my explanation, I hope that the Deputy may wish to withdraw his amendment.

The matter has been dealt in a previous amendment and I will withdraw my amendment.

How does the Government provide for surveys outside of the 12 nautical miles at the moment? Who does one apply to for a survey on an area outside 12 nautical miles?

We only deal with 12 nautical miles at the moment under the current regime. Obviously this Bill covers everywhere right out to the continental shelf.

Is it correct that when this Bill is enacted anybody who wishes to conduct a survey on an area beyond 12 nautical miles can do so through this Bill?

Correct. That is whole intention, yes.

I wish to flag that as I have some issues with these sections, that is, sections 169 onwards, that I want to consider, I reserve the right to table amendments on Report Stage.

Absolutely. I thank Deputy Cian O'Callaghan.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 171 to 174, inclusive, agreed to.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No. 266:

In page 187, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:

“Environmental impact assessments – special cases

175. The Act of 1933 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 13B:

“13C. (1)Subsection (2) applies where a local authority that is a planning authority (within the meaning of the Act of 2000)—

(a) applies for approval for a proposed development under—

(i) section 226 of the Act of 2000, or

(ii) on and after the coming into operation of section 12(2) of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021, section 175 of the Act of 2000,

or

(b) has an approval referred to in paragraph (a).

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other enactment, it shall not be necessary for—

(a) the local authority to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment Report in connection with its application under this Act for a lease or licence for the proposed development, or

(b) the appropriate Minister to undertake an environmental impact assessment in determining an application referred to in paragraph (a).”.”.

Amendment No. 266 is consequential on the repeal of Part XV of the Planning and Development Act, which is the part of that Act that deals with the foreshore. This amendment inserts a new provision into the Foreshore Act to recreate a specific element of Part XV, where a local authority own development requires both planning permission and foreshore consent, and an environmental impact assessment report, it is subject to a single environmental impact assessment in the planning permission process. This is not a new policy or approach. Appropriate assessment will still be required under both regulatory regimes.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 175 agreed to.
Sections 176 to 180, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 181

Amendments Nos. 267 and 268 will be taken together.

I move amendment No. 267:

In page 188, to delete lines 26 to 36, and in page 189, to delete lines 1 to 9.

We may table an amendment to section 10 of the Foreshore Act on Report Stage.

Amendment No. 267 proposes to delete all of section 181. Work is ongoing to refine this provision and it is expected that it will be amended on Report Stage. I seek to withdraw amendment No. 267 and return to it on Report Stage. I will instruct my officials to continue engagement and examine it further with a view to finalising text on Report Stage.

In circumstances where it is intended that section 181 will be further refined and amended on Report Stage, Deputies Higgins and McAuliffe may be agreeable to withdrawing their amendment No. 268.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 268:

In page 189, after line 9, to insert the following:

“(d) For the avoidance of doubt, with regard to paragraph (c), the scope of the relevant licence does not include facilities which comprise generator network located on the generator side of the point of connection to the transmission system.”.”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 181 agreed to.
Schedule 1 agreed to.
SCHEDULE 2
Question proposed: "That Schedule 2 be a Schedule to the Bill."

Like my previous comments about sections 169 onwards, I may table amendments to all of the Schedules on Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
SCHEDULE 3

Amendments Nos. 269 to 274, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 269:

In page 204, to delete lines 14 to 17.

Amendment No. 269 removes the text that excludes minerals extraction from the MAC requirement. Such activities will be subject to the new regime. Amendment No. 270 does the same in respect of gas pipelines. Amendment No. 271 clarifies that activities subject to licensing under this Act do not also require a MAC under section 73. Amendment No. 272 is a technical amendment relating to the licensing exclusion under section 74. Amendment No. 273 ensures minerals extraction activities are subject to the new regime. Amendment No. 274 ensures that gas pipelines are subject to the new regime.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 270:

In page 204, to delete lines 22 to 24.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 271:

In page 204, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:

“9. Subject to sections 108 and 114, any Schedule 7 usage (within the meaning of section 107) undertaken, or proposed to be undertaken, in the maritime area.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 4

I move amendment No. 272:

In page 205, line 8, to delete “section 108” and substitute “sections 108 and 114”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 273:

In page 205, to delete lines 18 to 21.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 274:

In page 205, to delete lines 26 to 28.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 5

Amendments Nos. 275 to 277, inclusive, are related and will be taken together.

I move amendment No. 275:

In page 206, line 18, to delete “and offshore transmission system operator”.

Amendment No. 275 amends the MAC assessment criterion no. 7 on the grid connection plans. It removes the term "offshore transmission operator". As mentioned in the withdrawn amendment No. 267, this element may need to be revisited on Report Stage.

Amendment No. 277 provides for an additional MAC assessment criterion to ensure that the outcome of any competitive processes under this Bill can be used as part of the assessment.

On foot of what I have mentioned, perhaps Deputies Higgins and McAuliffe may wish to withdraw their amendment No. 276. .

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 276 is in the names of Deputies Emer Higgins and Paul McAuliffe.

I move amendment No. 276:

In page 206, line 18, after “operator” to insert “and to optimise the use of the existing transmission network”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 277:

In page 206, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“11. Where a competitive process referred to in section 89 or 99 is used, the outcome of such process.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 6

Amendments Nos. 278 to 281, inclusive, are related and will be taken together.

I move amendment No. 278:

In page 207, to delete lines 22 to 24 and substitute the following:

“5. A condition specifying the date on or before which the application for the planning permission concerned shall be made.”.

Amendment No. 278 amends condition type 5 of Schedule 6 to allow the setting of a specific date by which the planning application has to be made. Amendment No. 280 is a minor technical change to improve syntax.

Amendment No. 281 inserts two new condition types. One has been discussed in earlier sessions and sets out a requirement for a public engagement plan. The second will allow conditions and procedures relating to change in control of a holder who is a commercial entity.

Amendment No. 279 proposes expiry of the MAC where a planning permission application has not been made within the allowed period. On reflection, the Bill may not be sufficiently explicit in that regard.

We cannot accept the amendment as proposed but we will examine it and come back with an amendment on Report Stage. The Deputies may wish to withdraw that amendment.

Amendment No. 279 seeks to impose a condition to require the MAC holder to apply for development permissions without a specified period. That is already included in paragraph 5 of Schedule 6, Part 1. I wonder how the exploration of that works within a specific period in a way that would deter seabed hoarding. The Minister of State has talked about this but perhaps he would like to make a specific comment.

The Deputy's amendment seeks a specific date. We accept there is significant merit to it and we will come back with a crafted amendment on Report Stage which we hope will address the issue.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 279:

In page 207, to delete lines 22 to 24 and substitute the following:

“5. A condition providing for the MAC to expire if the holder of the MAC has not applied for development permission for the maritime usage the subject of the MAC within a specified period commencing from the date of the grant of the MAC.”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 280:

In page 208, line 38, to delete “give a notice” and substitute “give notice”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 281:

In page 209, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

“21. A condition requiring the holder of a MAC to prepare, publish, maintain, update and adhere to a plan relating to public engagement on all or any matters relating to the maritime usage the subject of the MAC.

22. A condition requiring the holder of a MAC which is not an individual to follow steps specified by the MARA relating to any prospective change of control in the ownership of the holder.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 6, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 7

I move amendment No. 282:

In page 210, to delete line 34 and substitute the following:

“10. The harvesting, disturbance or removal of seaweed, whether growing or rooted on the seabed, or deposited in or washed up thereon by the action of any one or more than one of the following:

(a) tides;

(b) winds;

(c) waves.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 283:

In page 210, to delete lines 37 to 40 and substitute the following:

“12. (a) The removal of beach material from, or the disturbance of beach material in, the maritime area otherwise than in the course of the ordinary or reasonable recreational enjoyment of the maritime area.

(b) In this paragraph, “beach material” means sand, clay, gravel, shingle, stones,rocks, mineral substances, seashells, coral and maerl and any flora, in or on the surface of the seabed or suspended in the water of the maritime area, and includes outcrops of rock or any other mineral substance above the surface of the seabed.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 284:

In page 210, after line 40, to insert the following:

“13. The laying or installation of telecommunications cables or ducting by or between coastal States where such cables or ducting pass through the exclusive economic zone (as construed in accordance with the Act of 2021) or the continental shelf but do not land in the State.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 8

I move amendment no. 285:

In page 214, after line 14, to insert the following:

“19. A condition that would ensure continued benefits to the local community, area, environment or economy.”.

In the interests of time and given we may complete the Bill today, which I think everybody would prefer, I am going to withdraw the amendment. I do not want to repeat the conversation we had half an hour ago. I urge the Minister of State and his officials to consider this issue of community benefit and gain, and to come back to us with further thoughts on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule 8 agreed to.
SCHEDULE 9
Question proposed: "That Schedule 9 stand part of the Bill."

Subparagraph (4) states: "Subject to subparagraph (10), a rights commissioner shall not entertain a complaint under this paragraph if it is presented to him or her after the expiration of the period of 6 months beginning on the date of the contravention to which the complaint relates." What is the rationale behind limiting the right of somebody to make a complaint to six months and not allowing it afterwards?

It is to bring it in line with other legislation that they have chosen it as a cut-off.

That is not a brilliant explanation.

There are a lot of things on which we might not get a brilliant explanation. It can be difficult in terms of the consistency that runs through legislation.

I would express concern about that. I can think of many circumstances where in the case of an employee, for example, there could be a delay of longer than six months in making complaints about things that contravened the conditions the holder of an authorisation should be meeting but maybe was not.

It was provided to us by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel as a cut-off.

If there is any further elaboration on the reasons for it, it would be good to have them.

We will come back to the Deputies.

That would be useful. It can take time for people to even realise what the processes are and it can be difficult for people to raise issues, and so on. We do not want to lose something legitimate because of a fairly arbitrary limit. If there is good reason, that is fair enough, but if there is not and it can be extended, we can look at that.

Question put and agreed to.
SCHEDULE 10

Amendments Nos. 286 to 291, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 286:

In page 217, line 20, to delete “telecommunications cable” and substitute “telecommunications cable or pipeline”.

I propose to take amendments Nos. 286 to 291, inclusive, together.

Amendment No. 286 is a technical drafting amendment. The purpose of this amendment is, for technical reasons, to provide for telecommunications pipelines, in addition to telecommunications cables, in Reference No. 5 of the Eighth Schedule to the PDA. All that this amendment does is ensure that the board will determine all telecoms infrastructure as described.

The purpose of amendment No. 287 is to add “seabed or substrata beneath the soil or seabed” to “soil” for this category in this Schedule. This amendment is made to take account of specific maritime geological conditions and, similar to amendment No. 286, to avoid a situation where, for technical reasons, the board does not examine something that it was intended to.

The purpose of amendment No. 288 is to remove “nuclear waste material storage” as a category in this Schedule. It is not the Government’s intention to permit such activities in the maritime area and the inclusion in the list was as a result of the transposition of the EIA directive.

Amendment No. 289 is a renumbering amendment to accommodate amendment No. 288.

The purpose of amendment No. 290 is, for drafting reasons, to delete closing quotation marks after “tonnes” in Reference No. 21 of this Schedule. It is related to amendment No. 291.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 287:

In page 218, line 10, to delete “soil” and substitute “soil, seabed or substrata beneath the soil or seabed”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 288:

In page 218, to delete lines 11 and 12 and substitute the following:

“(a) geothermal purposes, or”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 289:

In page 218, line 13, to delete “(c)” and substitute “(b)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 290:

In page 219, line 31, to delete “tonnes.”.” and substitute “tonnes.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 291:

In page 219, after line 31, to insert the following:

“22. Development consisting of-

(a) prospecting for-

(i) minerals (within the meaning of the Minerals Development Act 1940) in accordance with a licence under section 9 or 22 of that Act, or

(ii) minerals (within the meaning of the Minerals Development Act 2017) in accordance with a licence under section 65 or 102 of that Act,

(b) working (within the meaning of the Minerals Development Act 1940) of such minerals in accordance with a licence under section 9 or 22 of that Act,

(c) working (within the Minerals Development Act 2017) of such minerals in accordance with a licence under section 65 or 102 of that Act, or

(d) the restoration of the area in which such prospecting for, or working of, such minerals has taken place.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Schedule 10, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I would like to express concern about a few matters. First, I understand this allows for applications for development which, under paragraph 12, would include "the purpose of nuclear waste material storage". I would like an explanation of that.

We have just deleted that.

Excellent. We collectively deleted it. That is good.

I also have concerns in respect of paragraph 15(b), relating to "a terminal, building or installation ancillary to a terminal that is used for the liquefaction of natural gas or the importation, offloading and re-gasification of liquefied natural gas", because some of us think that we do not need LNG infrastructure. If we are serious about our climate goals, we should not be envisaging further development of LNG infrastructure. I doubt the Government will agree with us on this, but it runs counter to the commitments we have to try to reduce CO2 emissions.

As regards paragraphs 16 and 21, it may be that I need them to be clarified. If I understand this correctly, in the context of the installation of storage for certain developments, there is no requirement for full development consent if the development is less than 20 ha. All of this applies for developments of more than 20 ha. Developments of 19 ha, 10 ha or 5 ha are quite large. The installation of storage for natural gas capacity, combustible gases, oil or coal on an area of 15 ha, 10 ha or even 5 ha is a pretty big deal. Is the threshold adequate? What is the logic behind it?

There is a similar point to be made with regard to paragraph 21, which relates to port installations and works relating to parking areas, unloading areas, ship repair areas, associated office facilities or areas for transport of goods in circumstances where the enclosed area is less than 20 ha, involves the reclamation of land that is less than 5 ha or involves the construction of a quay that is less than 100 m in length or the provision of facilities that would admit vessels that are less than 1,350 tonnes. Those would all be quite big developments to happen in a port. Why is an effort to put a rigorous regime in place for significant development proposals, if I understand this correctly, while proposals that are pretty significant but below that threshold will not be subject to the same sort of development consent process with all the associated consultation and compliance with directives and so on that, obviously, we have all said we are committed to?

As regards 15(b), relating to the liquefication of natural gas for importation, that is banned as a result of a Government decision and, as such, is banned through the national marine planning framework as well. It is not something that would be considered.

As regards the points made by the Deputy regarding the Schedule, in the first instance, it is not a judgment; it is a jurisdiction issue in the context of whether the board or the local authority cast judgment on a matter. It is an issue of jurisdiction. Everything that is specified in the Schedule goes to An Bord Pleanála. It is just a matter of which body has jurisdiction over the decision. All matters under the Schedule go to the board. It is not a judgment.

I want to be clear on this. First, on the LNG issue, the Minister of State said the Government decision in that regard is such that he does not envisage applications-----

Absolutely not.

-----or developments of that sort. Is that correct?

They will not be consented to. Applications can be made but they will not be consented to because of the Government decision.

In that case, should that not be deleted as well? Is it not logical to delete it in the same that reference to nuclear storage was deleted?

If it was deleted, it could go to the local authority. It would not prevent applications, essentially. There is certainty regarding the Government decision. That is clear. It is reflected through the marine planning framework.

I will reflect on the response of the Minister of State. On the last point, for clarification, he is saying that in the case of reclamation or the building of storage facilities under those thresholds, they will be dealt with by the local authority through the normal process of assessing planning applications, with all the public consultation provisions and-----

Yes. To make it simpler, everything detailed in the Schedule goes to the board.

Everything else will be dealt with through the normal planning process.

Will this also be subject to screening and everything else?

Absolutely. All those things. My officials have asked me to point out there is an energy security review.

Question put and agreed to.
SCHEDULE 11

Amendments Nos. 292 to 308, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 292:

In page 220, to delete lines 27 and 28 and substitute the following:

“2. Subsection (6) of section 34.

3. Subsection (2) of section 177K.

4. Subsection (2) of section 247.”.

This is a technical drafting amendment. The purpose of the amendment is, for technical and drafting reasons, to add section 34(6) of the Planning and Development Act to relevant provisions for the purposes of section 312, relating to construction of references to development plan. This effectively will apply the material contravention procedures to the national marine planning framework, ensuring that coastal planning authorities are held to account where they intend to deviate from the plan or, indeed, their own designated maritime area plan, DMAP.

The purpose of amendment No. 293 to section 4(1) of the Planning and Development Act is to include, in the category of exempted development, development by a coastal planning authority in its nearshore area, where the coastal planning authority is the owner of the maritime site on which the development is proposed to be situated, or it is the holder of a MAC granted for the occupation of a maritime site for the purposes of the proposed development. The initiated text only provided for an exemption where there was a MAC. This amendment applies the exemptions in the limited cases where the local authority is the owner of the maritime site.

The purpose of amendment No. 294 is to delete from section 4 of the Planning and Development Act, relating to exempted development, development consisting of prospecting for or working of minerals under the Minerals Development Acts 1940 and 2017, and the restoration of the area in which such prospecting for or working of minerals has taken place. This type of development is now being brought into the maritime planning regime owing to the lack of a suitable assessment framework for EIA in the maritime area. Amendment No. 291 relates to this issue.

Amendment No. 295 is a technical drafting amendment to change the reference of the current subsection (1A)(d) in section 4 of the Planning and Development Act to subsection (1A)(c). This is a renumbering required as a result of the deletion of paragraph (c) of the initiated text and the subsequent amendments all do likewise in respect of the relevant paragraphs.

Amendment No. 296 changes the current subsection (1A)(e) to subsection (1A)(d).

Amendment No. 297 changes the current subsection (1A)(f) to subsection (1A)(e).

Amendment No. 298 changes the current subsection (1A)(g) to subsection (1A)(f). I note a typo in the listed amendments. The number “5” should be inserted after “Part” in this amendment as in the initiated text.

I will be instructing the Bills Office accordingly.

Amendment No. 299 changes the current subsection (1A)(h) to subsection (1A)(g). The purpose of amendment No. 300 is to adjust the numbering in this list to reflect the renumbering. This clause is similar to existing clauses in the Planning and Development Act 2000 that limit exemptions where an environmental impact assessment is required.

The purpose of amendment No. 301 is to adjust the numbering in this list to reflect the renumbering. This clause is similar to existing clauses in the Planning and Development Act 2000 that limit exemptions where an appropriate assessment is required.

I want to flag to Deputies that I will table a further minor technical amendment on Report Stage to paragraph (b)(i) of the list in the new section 4(1A) to reference more accurately sections 8, 9 and 19 of the referenced Act at line 41. These references were inadvertently omitted from the initiated text and should be inserted.

Amendment No. 302 inserts a series of new direct amendments to the Planning and Development Act 2000 to do two key things. The first is to ensure the hierarchy of land-based plans, where they interact with the maritime area, has appropriate regard to the national marine planning framework when they are being prepared. The second element relates to the functions of the Office of the Planning Regulator, where it is proposed to increase its training and functional review functions to cover the provisions of the Bill. I will address each of these in turn but I note that, for clarity, all of the numbering in this Schedule will be adjusted to reflect the new insertions and deletions as provided for in the proposed amendments.

The following references follow the numbering in amendment No. 302. Reference No. 4 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 12(18) of the Planning and Development Act is to provide that there is an obligation to ensure that any development plan prepared by a coastal planning authority should be consistent with the national marine planning framework. This is to ensure compliance with the marine spatial planning directive and section 14 of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021.

Reference No. 5 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 13(14) of the Planning and Development Act is to provide that there is an obligation to ensure any development plan prepared by a coastal planning authority should be consistent with the national marine planning framework. This is to ensure compliance with the marine spatial planning directive and section 14 of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021.

Reference No. 6 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 23(3) of the Planning and Development Act is to provide that a regional assembly, in preparing its regional spatial and economic strategy, must ensure it is consistent with the national marine planning framework if the strategy is likely to affect the maritime area.

Reference No. 7 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 31(1)(ba) of the Planning and Development Act is to allow the Minister to issue a direction to a planning authority where its development plan is not consistent with the national marine planning framework. This is to ensure compliance with the marine spatial planning directive and section 14 of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021.

Reference No. 8 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 31Q(1)(a) of the Planning and Development Act is to provide that the Office of the Planning Regulator can provide education and training programmes for members of planning authorities and regional assemblies in respect of the role of such members, authorities and assemblies in relation to guidelines issued under section 7 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 and policy directives issued under section 8 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021. The purpose of the amendment to section 31Q(1)(b) of the Planning and Development Act is to provide that the Office of the Planning Regulator can provide education and training programmes for members of the staff of local authorities or regional assemblies in relation to maritime spatial planning.

Reference No. 9 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 31S(1)(a) of the Planning and Development Act is to add section 7 or 8 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 on ministerial guidelines and directives to the policies and objectives to which the Office of the Planning Regulator, in performing its functions, must have regard. This is consistent with the provisions in respect of the land-based planning systems. The purpose of the amendment to section 31S(1)(c) is to require the Office of the Planning Regulator, in performing its functions, to have regard to the national marine planning framework in addition to the national planning framework.

Reference No. 10 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 31AM is to require that the Office of the Planning Regulator includes consistency with the national marine planning framework in its evaluations and assessments of matters relating to development plans. This is to ensure compliance with section 14 of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021.

Reference No. 11 is that the purpose of the amendment to section 31AQ(2) of the Planning and Development Act is to require that the Office of the Planning Regulator includes consistency with the national marine planning framework in its evaluations and assessments of matters relating to regional spatial and economic strategies. This is to ensure compliance with section 14 of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021.

With regard to amendment No. 303, on foot of legal advice the purpose of the amendment to section 125 of the Planning and Development Act, regarding appeals, referrals and applications with which the board is concerned, is to insert a new subsection (2) stating that Chapter III of the Planning and Development Act, other than sections 126 to 134, inclusive, shall apply to applications under section 291 of the Planning and Development Act and requests under section 297 of the Planning and Development Act. Section 125 as it stood before the insertion of this amendment will become subsection (1) of the section.

This construction will ensure the board is obliged to comply with the provisions of Chapter III of Part VI, save for the excluded provisions. The excluded provisions are not relevant to applications under section 291 or requests under section 297 or a specific provision has already been made in the Bill, for example, oral hearings under the new section 305. It is here that the obligations are placed on the board to publish the material referred to in earlier discussions.

The Minister of State would not explain that again, would he?

With regard to amendment No. 305, the purpose of the amendment to section 173(1) of the Planning and Development Act on permission for development requiring environmental impact assessment is to insert "or Chapter III of Part XXI" after "In addition to the requirements under section 34(3)". This is to ensure applications made under Chapter III are covered under the provision that relates to environmental impact assessment.

With regard to amendment No. 306, the purpose of this amendment to the new section 178A is to provide for agreements between a local authority and another person to carry out development. This is to provide for commissions, joint ventures and partnerships, and the previous wording did not permit this. This would, for example, allow local authorities to work together or allow local authorities to employ a third party to carry out the works.

With regard to amendment No. 307, the purpose of this amendment of new section 178A is to provide for agreements between a State authority and another person to carry out development. This is to provide for commissions, joint ventures and partnerships and is similar in effect to amendment No. 306.

With regard to amendment No. 308, the purpose of the amendment of section 182 of the Planning and Development Act on cables, wires and pipelines is to insert a new subsection (1A) which, to be eligible to apply for approval in respect of a maritime site, requires a local authority to be the holder of a maritime area consent, or be either the owner of the land or be applying on behalf of, or with the consent of, the owner of the land on which it is proposed to carry out the development concerned. This is to align with other provisions already proposed and to require local authorities to have a MAC for the purposes of this section.

We are getting to the giddy part of the sixth or seventh session ,but I want to make several points and ask questions. As I read amendment No. 302 and as the Minister of State outlined its provisions, a shiver went down my spine as he articulated the iron grip of central government planning regulations closing in on what little is left of the local democracy of our city and county development plans. I will not open up the argument here. Much and all as I am concerned with this direction in terrestrial planning, I am equally concerned with the way in which it is articulated here. It is a fight for another day. The Schedule has 22 pages of amendments to planning and development Acts.

The Minister of State's amendments to that Schedule provide for another 35 changes. If people here think this Bill is long, technical and complicated, they should look at the fully consolidated Planning and Development Act because it is probably one of most unwieldy legislative measures. If the Department has a draft consolidated version of that Act incorporating both all of Schedule 12 and these amendments, it would be helpful to share that with the committee. Trying to decipher Schedule 12 and the Minister of State's amendments has been difficult. If he is in a position to share a draft consolidated version including the amendments, if there is one, between now and Report Stage, I and other members would benefit from that.

The Deputy can say that again.

I note the comments. We do not have it at present, but we are working on it with the Attorney General's office, which is leading a review and a fitness test of the planning code. That will obviously form part of it.

I understand the Attorney General and five or six senior counsels are being brought in to that piece of work. For the purpose of clarity, if any of us have questions about this and if we are in a position to email as a committee to the officials, they might clarify some of those between now and Report Stage.

Absolutely. I am happy to give that support. The members could compile a list of questions.

We might do that as a committee.

We can do that through our committee meeting.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 11, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 12

I move amendment No. 293:

In page 224, to delete lines 17 to 25 and substitute the following:

"

(ab) development by a coastal planning

authority that—

(i) owns the maritime site on which

the development is proposed to

be situated, or

(ii) is the holder of a maritime area

consent granted for the

occupation of a maritime site for

the purposes of the proposed

development,

in its nearshore area;”.

".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 294:

In page 225, to delete lines 4 to 28.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 295:

In page 225, to delete lines 29 to 34 and substitute the following:

(c) development consisting, or for the

purposes, of the construction or

operation, in accordance with a

consent under subsection (1) of

section 40 of the Gas Act 1976, of

an upstream pipeline,

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 296:

In page 225, to delete lines 35 to 38 and substitute the following:

(d) development for the purposes, or

consisting, of dumping within the

meaning of the Dumping at Sea Act

1996;

”.

.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 297:

In page 225, to delete lines 39 to 47 and substitute the following:

(e) development authorised under

section 638 of the Merchant

Shipping Act 1894 or section 3 of

the Merchant Shipping

(Commissioners of Irish Lights) Act

1997 by the Commissioners of Irish

Lights for the purposes, or

consisting, of the placement of aids

to navigation;

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 298:

In page 226, to delete lines 1 to 4 and substitute the following:

(f) activities that are the subject of, or

require, a licence under Part of the

Maritime Area Planning Act 2021;

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 299:

In page 226, to delete lines 5 to 7 and substitute the following:

(g) development consisting of the use of

any land or maritime site for the

purposes of—

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 300:

In page 226, to delete lines 11 to 17 and substitute the following:

(1B) Development referred to in paragraph

(a), (d), (e), (f) or (g) of subsection

(1A) shall not be exempted

development if an environmental

impact assessment of the development

is required.

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 301:

In page 226, to delete lines 18 to 24 and substitute the following:

(1C) Development referred to in paragraph

(a), (d), (e) or (g) of subsection (1A)

shall not be exempted development if

an appropriate assessment of the

development is required.”.

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 302:

In page 226, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

4.

Section 12

The following subsection is substituted for subsection (18):

“(18) In this section ‘statutory obligations’

includes—

(a) in relation to a local authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is consistent with—

(i) the national and regional development objectives specified

in—

(I) the National PlanningFramework, and

(II) the regional spatial and economic strategy, and

(ii) specific planning policy requirements specified in

guidelines under subsection (1) of section 28, and

(b) in relation to a local authority that is a coastal planning authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is, in addition to being consistent with the obligation referred to in paragraph (a), consistent with the National Marine Planning Framework.”.

5.

Section 13

The following subsection is substituted for subsection (14):

“(14) In this section ‘statutory obligations’ includes—

(a) in relation to a local authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is consistent with—

(i) the national and regional development objectives specified in—

(I) the National Planning Framework, and

(II) the regional spatial and economic strategy, and

(ii) specific planning policy requirements specified in

guidelines under subsection(1) of section 28, and

(b) in relation to a local authority that is a coastal planning authority, the obligation to ensure that the development plan is, in addition to being consistent with the obligation referred to in paragraph (a), consistent with the National Marine Planning Framework.”.

6.

Section 23

Subsection (3) is amended, in paragraph (a), by the insertion of the following subparagraph:

“(iiia) the National Marine Planning Framework, in circumstances

where the strategy is likely to affect the maritime area,”.

7.

Section 31

Subsection (1) is amended, in paragraph (ba), by—

(a) the deletion, in subparagraph (i), of “or”, and

(b) the insertion of the following subparagraph:

“(ia) the National Marine Planning Framework, or”.

8.

Section 31Q

Subsection (1) is amended—

(a) in paragraph (a), by the insertion of the following subparagraph:

“(ia) the role of such members,authorities and assemblies in relation to guidelines under section 7 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 and directives under section 8 of that Act,”, and

(b) in paragraph (b), by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (i):

“(i) such matters as the Minister may specify relating to—

(I) proper planning and sustainable development, and

(II) maritime spatial planning,and”.

9.

Section 31S

Subsection (1) is amended—

(a) in paragraph (a), by—

(i) the insertion, after “Chapter IV of Part II”, of “or section 7 or 8 of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021,”, and

(ii) the insertion, after “rural,”, of “or maritime spatial planning,”, and

(b) in paragraph (c), by the insertion, after “Strategy)”, of “, the National Marine Planning Framework”.

10.

Section 31AM

Subsection (2) is amended, in paragraph (b), by the insertion of “and the National Marine Planning Framework” after “National Spatial Strategy)”.

11.

Section 31AQ

Subsection (2) is amended, in paragraph (b), by the insertion of “and the National Marine Planning Framework” after “National Spatial Strategy)”.

".

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 303:

In page 226, to delete lines 42 to 45 and substitute the following:

9.

Section 125

The following subsection is inserted:

“(2) This Chapter (other than sections 126,

127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133 and

134) shall apply to—

(a) applications under section 291, and

(b) requests under section 297.”,

and section 125 as it stood immediately before the insertion of the foregoing shall be referred to as subsection (1) of section 125.

".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 304:

In page 227, to delete lines 37 to 42 and substitute the following:

“(1A) Summary proceedings for an offence under this Part may be brought and prosecuted by the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority whether or not the offence is committed in the maritime area.”.

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 305:

In page 229, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:

20.

Section 173

Subsection (1) is amended by the insertion, after “section 34(3)”, of “or Chapter III of Part XXI”.

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 306:

In page 237, to delete lines 1 to 5 and substitute the following:

Development in maritime area by local authority or State authority

178A. (1) A local authority shall not carry out, or make an agreement with another person for the carrying out, of development in the maritime area, unless—

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 307:

In page 237, to delete lines 19 to 21 and substitute the following:

(2) A State authority shall not carry out, or make an agreement with another person for the carrying out, of development in the maritime area, unless—

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 308:

In page 243, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:

37. Section 182 The following subsection is inserted:

“(1A) A local authority shall not be eligible toappl y for approval referred to in subsection (1) for development on a maritime site, and no such approval shall be given to a local authority, unless the local authority—

(a) is the holder of a maritime area consent granted for the occupation of the maritime site for the purposes of the proposed development,

(b) is the owner of land on which it is proposed to carry out the

development concerned, or

(c) makes the application with the consent, or on behalf, of the owner of land on which it is proposed to carry out the development

concerned.”.

”.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 12, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Title be the Title to the Bill."

Briefly, this is the last chance to mention something we have not mentioned before Report Stage. I believe these issues arose yesterday but I want to ensure they are on the record. They are the concerns we have about access to justice issues in terms of the various consents for which the Bill sets out the provisions. Without making statements on it, there are concerns about the consents, the standing of NGOs and so forth as well as costs issues regarding access to justice in respect of the various provisions of the Bill. I wish to signal that in case we may need to table amendments in that regard on Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill be reported with amendments."

First, I thank you, Chairman, and the committee secretariat whose members have put in many hours on the Bill in the past number of weeks. I thank all the members of the committee, both Government and Opposition. We valued the engagement and the contributions. We have acceded to a number of changes in the legislation where we could. That will add value to the process and I hope we have demonstrated our willingness to do that by how we have conducted the hearings. We will continue to do that on Report Stage. I also thank my officials, who have done great work. It is a very demanding legislative measure and is very complicated. However, I am very confident that it will be of great service to the State into the future after it is enacted. It will provide a robust regime that will have public participation and transparency at its core and allow our maritime to be protected, in the first instance, and to be developed in a sustainable way. I thank everybody for all their engagement to date.

Thank you, and I agree with you. I thank you for your engagement on this and I thank your officials for their time, briefings and the explanatory documents we were given on the Bill, as well as those from the Library and Research Service. I also thank the Bills Office, which put all this together so it flows well. A lot of work goes on. In addition, I thank the secretariat for their time, and I thank the members.

Question put and agreed to.
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