The draft National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) was launched by Government on 12 November 2019. The draft NMPF is Ireland’s first comprehensive marine spatial plan document and outlines the clear structure and direction proposed for the development, conservation and enjoyment of our maritime area. This important new text will, when finalised, stand as the marine equivalent of the terrestrial National Planning Framework and will become the key decision-making tool for regulatory authorities and policy makers into the future.
The NMPF is the product of extensive work across Government and significant engagement and interaction with all marine stakeholders over a 2-year period.
The Draft NMPF, as well as other associated reports, is available for viewing on my Department's website via the following link: www.marineplan.gov.ie.
Public consultation on the draft NMPF commenced on 12 November 2019 and the closing date was extended to 30 April 2020. Environmental Reports, including the Strategic Environmental Assessment Screening Determination, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Statement, were prepared and made available as part of this consultation.
In keeping with the focus on public engagement which I outlined at the launch of the draft NMPF, my Department has convened a number of regional workshops as part of the consultation, with each regional workshop focusing on marine themes appropriate or significant to their respective locations.
In light of the restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), my Department organised a Public 'webinar' to facilitate a further consultation opportunity during this period. This webinar was held on 21 April 2020.
As stated above, the consultation closed on 30 April 2020, and my Department is now evaluating all submissions received. The draft NMPF and associated environmental reports will be amended as required, based on the results of the evaluation of feedback received. The final NMPF and associated environmental reports will be prepared for submission to Government and presentation to the Houses of the Oireachtas during Q4 2020. The final NMPF must be submitted to the European Commission by end-March 2021.