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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 1 Dec 2021

Vol. 1015 No. 1

Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 23, line 33, to delete “(8)” and substitute “(10)

I wish to speak to amendment No. 2. This is a very welcome amendment, as I am sure the Minister of State's briefing note tells him. Opposition members of the committee were arguing very strongly that the marine planning policy statement should have the formal approval of the Dáil. The amendment provides for that. This is similar to the maritime area plan and the planning framework. A similar procedure should also have been used and we argued for this on Committee Stage with respect to the ministerial guidelines and the ministerial policy directives. They have an equally significant strength.

Can the Minister of State give us a clear commitment that when this mechanism is to be used, we will have full Oireachtas scrutiny, particularly through our committee? Can he tell us why a similar provision was not made with respect to the ministerial guidelines and policy directives?

Amendment No. 2 is the substance of this grouping. It provides clear Oireachtas oversight over the making of a marine planning policy statement. It proposes that a draft marine planning policy statement shall be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and will be subject to a resolution. This amendment also makes it clear that the marine planning policy statement is subject to the appropriate assessment and strategic environmental assessment requirements, as amended. The Minister, in the preparation of the marine planning policy statement, shall have regard to any resolution, report or recommendation of any committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas or either such House. This amendment arises from our own discussions on Committee Stage. Amendments to this section were proposed on 19 October 2021. At that meeting we gave a commitment to address this matter with a Report Stage amendment, and we have done so. This demonstrates positivity in the way Committee Stage was conducted and the useful input of all involved. We were able to provide the drafting provision. This is similar to others where documents were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and provides that submissions made by any committee will be taken into account by the Minister in the drafting of the marine planning policy statement.

I am appreciative of the fact that this amendment has been tabled, but the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, did not answer the specific question. We argued on Committee Stage that a similar provision should be made available with respect to ministerial guidelines and policy directives. Is there a reason that was not considered? Given the significance of the policy directives and ministerial guidelines - the concept of guidelines being a little bit of a misnomer given they have the weight of law - surely some mechanism for Oireachtas approval should have been provided, if not necessarily by the Dáil and Seanad, at least by way of committee approval.

I will have to revert to the Deputy on that question.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 23, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

"(2) Where the Minister proposes to prepare a marine planning policy statement, he or she shall lay a draft of the statement, together with the Environmental Statement and Appropriate Assessment Determination in respect thereof if required, before each House of the Oireachtas, and shall not prepare the statement until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.

(3) The Minister shall, in the preparation of the marine planning policy statement, have regard to any resolution, report or recommendation of any committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas or either such House in so far as such resolution, report or recommendation, as the case may be, relates to a draft laid before each such House in accordance with subsection (2).".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 24, to delete lines 10 and 11 and substitute the following:

"(f) the Habitats Directive;

(g) the Birds Directive;

(h) any current policy of the Government relating to maritime planning;

(i) representations (if any) referred to in subsection (10).".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 25, to delete line 25 and substitute "(i).".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 25, line 40, to delete "(f)." and substitute "(i).".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 6, in the name of the Minister, arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, and Nos. 56 and 57 are related and may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 27, line 4, to delete "section 34" and substitute "Part III".

As discussed on Committee Stage, the amendments proposed to section 12 at the time were aimed at ensuring that, as a result of the repeal of Part XV of the Planning and Development Act, existing development rights conferred on sites by virtue of an existing grant of permission were not lost, or that persons that had entered into the planning process pursuant of the Part were provided with the opportunity to continue with their application. The amendment proposed and agreed at the time was too specific and did not account for two categories of applications made under Part XV that were intended to be covered.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 removed the reference to section 34 of the Planning and Development Act and replace it with a reference to Part III. This not only better reflects the text in subsection (2) and section 255 of the Planning and Development Act but also ensures that strategic infrastructure development permissions are included. This ensures that critical State infrastructure does not lose the benefit of its permission and has to go through the process under the new section 21.

While I acknowledge that the Minister of State explained amendment No. 56 briefly, could he give us a little more detail or clarity regarding why the wording is being changed?

As I stated regarding amendments Nos. 6 and 7, it is just to better reflect the text in subsection (2). It is just for clarity.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 27, line 11, to delete "section 34" and substitute "Part III".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 27, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"(c) Notwithstanding subsection (2)

(i) an approval granted under section 226 of the Act of 2000 in relation to an application made thereunder before the commencement of that subsection shall continue to have effect, and Part XV of the Act of 2000 shall continue to apply in relation thereto, as if subsection (2) had not been commenced, and

(ii) Part XV of the Act of 2000 shall continue to apply in relation to an application made before the commencement of that subsection for an approval under section 226 of the Act of 2000 as if subsection (2) had not been commenced.".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 9 arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 9, 13 to 15, inclusive, and 19 are related and are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 28, line 30, to delete "coexistance" and substitute "coexistence".

Amendment No. 9 is required to address a typographical error. The purpose is to correct the misspelled "coexistance" by replacing "a" with "e". There was an amendment that arose from an Opposition proposal that we were happy to accept. While we thank Deputies for their significant and useful contributions in respect of their amendment, their proposed spelling, "coexistance", was incorrect. This amendment corrects the typographical error.

Amendment No. 13 is to provide that Chapter 4-designated maritime area plans, DMAPs, be approved by the relevant coastal planning authority and are not required to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. This amendment was agreed on the Committee Stage discussion of section 19 on Tuesday, 2 November 2021. I thank the Deputies who brought this to the attention of officials during the debate. I would like to think this is an excellent example that reflects the truly collaborative nature of the discussions on Committee Stage. We entered Committee Stage in the spirit of collaboration and continued in that regard to the conclusion. All Members will agree that the Government sought to work in a collegiate manner whereby proper and respectable consideration was given to all proposals to achieve the best possible legislation for all maritime users.

Amendment No. 14 amends section 20, which provides for the designation of public bodies that may make DMAPs. It is accepted that we want high-quality DMAPs that can successfully achieve what is set out in sections 21 and 22. It is acknowledged that not every public body has the necessary capacity, competency or skill to prepare a DMAP. It is intended to be mindful of these matters when designating. On Committee Stage it became clear that we had inadvertently used too broad a definition of "public body" in respect of such a designation. As defined in the Bill, it includes the Minister, local authorities and bodies established under enactment. It also includes companies. While appropriate in other contexts, it would not be appropriate for a company, a commercial entity, to prepare a DMAP. It was therefore flagged on Committee Stage that I would be introducing an amendment such as this on Report Stage to modify the definition of "public body" for the purpose of this section. For clarity, this excludes public bodies as defined in paragraph (d) on page 19 of the amended Bill from being able to prepare a DMAP.

Amendment No. 15 is to amend section 22(2)(f) to add "or coexistence" after "colocation". This amendment arises from an expansive discussion of a Opposition amendment on Committee Stage. That amendment was to replace "colocation" with "coexistence" as this would be more consistent with the language used in the MSP directive. I raised concerns about this approach and committed to reverting to the House with a more appropriate formulation. The inclusion of both "colocation" and "coexistence" is designed to reflect the intended versatile nature of DMAPs. The formulation is necessary to allow for a specific DMAP to provide for the colocation of particular future maritime usages.

It does not dilute the requirement to comply with the maritime spatial planning directive in terms of coexistence of maritime usages and, seen in the amendment No. 13, this requirement exists for the national level plan, under which DMAPs must sit. It is simply a drafting tool to provide for the flexibility required for this innovative type of sub-national planning.

Amendment No. 19 arises from Committee Stage amendment No. 122, which was withdrawn in error as part of a grouping of amendments on Committee Stage. The purpose of this amendment was to correct a typographical error by replacing "Minster" with "Minister". It is introduced as a single amendment to correct the spelling error.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 29, to delete lines 20 to 28 and substitute the following:

"(2) Not later than 1 month following enactment (of this legislation), the Minister shall commence and carry out a review of the existing NMPF to—

(a) review its compliance with the MSP Directive,

(b) provide for interim protections for the marine environment, and

(c) in respect of the inclusion of relevant projects in the existing NMPF—

(i) to specifically review the compatibility of the inclusion of the relevant projects in the existing NMPF with the requirements of the MSP Directive, and

(ii) to address consequences arising from the delayed implementation of marine protected areas and adequate designation of sites under the Birds Directive and Habitats Directive.

(3) Notwithstanding anything elsewhere in this Act no Maritime Area Consent, or Development Consent can be granted pending the conclusion of the review under subsection (2).

(4) The Minister shall conduct a public consultation as part of the review and shall also 2 consult with at least with the following organisations:

(a) The Marine Institute;

(b) The Environmental Protection Agency;

(c) The Heritage Council;

(d) Fáilte Ireland;

(e) An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland;

(f) Sustainable Water Network Ireland.

(5) The Minister shall assess the compliance of the existing NMPF including in particular how the existing NMPF complies with the following articles of the MSP Directive:

(a) Article 1;

(b) Article 4(4);

(c) Article 4(5);

(d) Article 5(1);

(e) Article 5(2);

(f) Article 6;

(g) Article 8(1);

(h) Article 8(2);

(i) Article 10;

(j) Article 11;

(k) the requirements of recital 2 relating to the overarching constraint that development and decision making in marine environment has to be done whilst achieving good environmental status as set out in Directive 2008/56/EC.

(6) The Minister shall consider the implications of at least the following assessments in reviewing the adequacy and compliance of the existing NMPF and the need to provide for interim protection areas, pending the designation of further sites as marine protected areas under Article 13(4) of Directive 2008/56/EC:

(a) Art 17, 10 and 11 of the Maritime Strategy Framework Directive;

(b) Article 16 and 17 of the Habitats Directive;

(c) Article 10 of the Birds Directive;

(d) any data gaps and deficiencies in the assessments highlighted in the consultation responses to paragraphs (a) to (c) above;

(e) the latest Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report, and its relevance and conclusions for marine biodiversity and relevant avian species including native and migratory bird species relevant for the area of the MSP;

(f) migratory and foraging pathways for marine biodiversity and relevant avian species including native and migratory bird species, to and from, and through the MSP;

(g) outstanding and or inadequate designations in the marine environment or in coastal sites under both the Birds and Habitats Directive;

(h) the requirements for the strict protection of species and habitats listed under Annex IV of the Habitats Directive;

(i) take account of the effect of climate change on patterns of migration; and

(j) take a precautionary approach to data gaps and deficiencies in respect of ecological surveys in respect of the MSP.

(7) The Minister shall detail his detailed reasons and rationale for amending or not amending the existing NMPF including in light of the criteria and considerations above.".

What we are trying to do with this amendment is to say that we need an urgent review of the national marine planning framework and that the review needs to ensure compliance with the maritime spatial planning directive to provide for interim protections for the marine environment and, essentially, to check compliance between the national marine planning framework and all the key EU directives relating to maritime spatial planning and the protection of the environment, the habitats directive and the birds directive. We should also ensure we have consultation with organisations that have expertise in and knowledge of the marine environment such as the Heritage Council, Fáilte Ireland, An Taisce, the Sustainable Water Network, the Marine Institute and so on.

Other Deputies will elaborate further on this point because the amendment is tabled in my name as well as the names of Deputies Cian O'Callaghan and Eoin Ó Broin. To summarise, our concern, a concern that was corroborated by the officials dealing with marine protected areas, whom we met yesterday, is that in an ideal world we would be doing things the other way around as to how we will manage our maritime area of 220 million acres, an enormous area multiples the size of the land area of this country. It is a hugely important resource for biodiversity and in its role as a carbon sink. In an ideal world we would have had our designated marine protected areas before talking about giving consent for human activity and major development, particularly major industrial development, in the maritime area when that human activity and industrial development could potentially do damage to our marine resources, to biodiversity and to the capacity of the marine as a key environmental protection for humanity in its capacity to absorb carbon. The officials acknowledged that we would have done that first. Ireland is at the bottom of the league table when it comes to the designation of marine protected areas, with only a little more than 2% of our huge marine area, one of the biggest marine areas of any country in Europe, protected, as against France, at over 40%, and other countries at 50% to 60%. We are behind the curve. The officials acknowledged that.

We are concerned because the legacy projects that get special status in the national marine planning framework, which were sites developed for industrial offshore renewable infrastructure, were selected by the developers and the developers have said very explicitly they want "a developer-led approach" to developing offshore wind. We do not believe it is in line with sustainable planning and development or with the spirit or the word or letter of environmental protections in EU directives that we would have a developer-led approach. However, the companies that have those specially designated legacy projects have selected their own sites. We do not know whether those sites are incredibly sensitive and important to the protection of marine biodiversity and our marine environment. That is a problem and, therefore, we want the maximum protection put in place and we want the national marine planning framework to be reviewed in that context in order that we do not have inappropriate, potentially damaging development taking place before we have a plan-led approach that is fully in compliance with all the key environmental directives of the European Union to protect our precious marine resources and environment.

During the very lengthy Committee Stage hearings we had on this legislation, one of the points I made regularly was that our party, and in fact everybody on the committee, urgently wants us to be able to get up and running with the planning regime for the marine in order that we can progress our renewable wind energy projects to meet those crucial targets, not only as part of the Government's climate action plan but also to meet our commitments under international and European agreements. The concern many of us had through the course of the passage of the Bill was that, while we are doing that work on the planning regime, we also have to make sure we fully protect marine biodiversity and the marine. I know that is very close to the Minister of State's heart. The officials who were dealing with this legislation were, justifiably, not in a position to update us on what is happening with the marine protected areas but yesterday, thankfully, officials working directly with the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, on the marine protected areas gave us a comprehensive briefing over three hours on progress in that regard. The concern I had about the Maritime Area Planning Bill is probably greater now, on foot of that briefing, than it was at the start and this amendment speaks directly to some of those concerns. The officials told us yesterday that we are not likely to get a general scheme of the marine protected areas legislation until the third quarter of next year. Obviously, that will have to go through important pre-legislative scrutiny and then through the Dáil, so realistically the passage and enactment of that legislation is likely not to happen until 2023.

International best practice, particularly from jurisdictions such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Scotland, argues that these two things should absolutely be done in parallel. If they are done in parallel, you get better quality planning outcomes and greater protection of marine biodiversity and you are less likely to be subject to legal challenge. We thought there might have been a delay of a year or so but realistically we are now looking at three to four years because, once the legislation on marine protected areas is through, it will take the relevant officials two to three years to get through those designations.

The officials also made some interesting comments on the fact that the extent to which the area of the marine one mile out from the shoreline currently protected, albeit not through legally prescribed protected areas, is about 60%. Yet we know - again, the Minister of State will have more intimate knowledge of this than I do - that while an area can be designated, it is another thing enforcing that designation and ensuring that it is properly protected and, where infringements of the protection in place occur, properly remediated. The challenge many of us face now is that we want the wind energy and we want the planning process to be able to deliver offshore wind as quickly and as efficiently as possible, yet the time lag between the setting up and the progressing of the seven legacy projects off the east coast of the island and the establishment of the marine protected areas is far greater than we had originally envisaged. In addition, the Minister of State can correct me if I have misinterpreted this, but I came away from yesterday's meeting with his officials unclear as to whether any interim measures will be put in place, particularly in those areas of the marine where the seven legacy projects are due to be progressed, through both ministerial maritime area consents and applications to An Bord Pleanála before the creation of the new maritime agency. Therefore, the big question many of us have is to what extent we, both the Oireachtas and the wider public, can be confident that the very significant challenges to key aspects of marine biodiversity will be adequately captured through the round of marine area consents, MACs, and planning decisions of the Minister and the board between now and when we eventually get the marine protected areas. That is a real challenge.

The purpose of this amendment, therefore, as Deputy Boyd Barrett said, is, first, to try to fast-track a review of the marine planning framework because that would at least allow us to deal with some of these outstanding issues but, also, not just to have the review because, as the Minister of State will notice, the amendment is quite long. The officials are quite adept at reading long amendments from us on this and giving the Minister pithy notes to respond to them. The review needs to do a number of key things. First, it needs to ensure full compliance with a range of legal obligations that Deputy Boyd Barrett outlined. It also needs to outline very clearly who needs to be consulted as a matter of urgency. There are other issues that need to be broadly addressed. Probably one of the most important points of amendment No. 10 is subsection (3): "Notwithstanding anything else in this Act no Maritime Area Consent, or Development Consent can be granted pending the conclusion of the review under subsection (2)." It is not like we are trying to delay any consents or planning permission. We are trying to get the Government to accelerate that bit of the process that is now three years behind schedule in real terms to ensure we can do two things which are absolutely crucial to meeting our climate change challenge. One is renewable energy and the other is protection of biodiversity, particularly marine biodiversity.

I do not expect the Minister of State to support the amendment. We know the view of the officials and the line Minister of State, Deputy Burke, because we went through this in quite some detail. In addition to reading out the note to explain why he is not going to accept this amendment, I would like to hear the view of the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, because it is the first time we have got to question him with respect to the marine protected areas in the context of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021. How are we going to manage those two key things? The scale of the technology that is required to meet the renewable energy challenge that we are going to need between now and 2030 is so great that it is clearly going to have an impact on the marine area and marine biodiversity. What mitigating measures are we going to put in place to ensure the maximum protection so that the coexistence we talked about in the earlier amendments is able to happen in a way that does not mean we sacrifice marine biodiversity to meet our much-needed renewable energy targets?

Obviously, the Minister of State will read out his reply, but I would like him, beyond that, to reflect directly on that wider issue because it is one that is directly within his responsibility as he will be stewarding through the marine protected areas legislation next year.

First, I wish to say that there was very good engagement at committee level on this legislation. During that process we sought a number of written clarifications on a number of matters, which we were looking for in advance of Report Stage. It is regrettable that the commitments in written clarifications never came forward and we did not receive them.

The previous speakers made some very good points. There is an urgent need for renewable wind energy and a marine planning framework. To facilitate that, and indeed other activities in our marine area, there is an urgent need for a review of the national marine planning framework, which is what this amendment is about. We can have renewable wind energy while also urgently protecting our marine biodiversity. The strong concern I have is around the slowness in designating the marine protected areas. The briefing that we got yesterday at the meeting of the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage confirmed that we effectively will not be seeing a huge amount of progress on marine protected areas getting designated and being put in place probably until 2025, according to the current timescale. That means we are going to have a lot of active consents, without first properly identifying the areas of the marine that need to be protected. That allows for the possibility of significant damage taking place. The commitment in the programme for Government for marine protected areas to form 30% of Ireland's maritime area is a very positive one, but getting that implemented as quickly as possible is absolutely key.

There are two points that I wish to raise about this amendment, in particular. First, if we are not going to have marine protected areas in place quickly enough and at the same time as this planning framework, which is what should be happening but it looks like it is not going to happen, there is an urgent need for interim measures and protections to be put in place to ensure that in granting consents, areas that need to be protected but which are not yet designated as marine protected areas are protected, and that the marine life biodiversity and so forth are properly protected. That is urgently needed. Perhaps the Minister of State can address that point, in particular. What is going to be done in terms of putting in place interim measures and protections until we have a full network of marine protected areas fully designated?

The second part of the amendment which I think is particularly important is around section 6, which concerns the urgent review of the national marine planning framework to ensure compliance with Articles 17, 10 and 11 of the marine strategy framework directive, Articles 16 and 17 of the habitats directive and Article 10 of the birds directive and, particularly, to assess its compliance with the latest Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report. I think that is particularly important. Doing that would provide some level of protection pending the full designation of the marine protected areas. I ask the Minister of State to address, in particular, what is going to be done to put in place interim measures and protections pending the full designations.

I would like to speak to this amendment. I am not a member of the committee, but we have been kept apprised of the progression of the Maritime Area Planning Bill through the Dáil. I do not think there is any Deputy in the country who would have anything to say against having offshore wind energy and renewable wind energy projects. I have no issue with it whatsoever. Of course, others who have spoken on this amendment have spoken about the protection of maritime biodiversity. That is 100% correct. However, I have major concerns about the fishermen, their protection and the protection of their income. I have spoken previously about the consultation with fishermen. I would like to see where the consultation has taken place. I was at a meeting recently at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry where there were around 35 to 40 fishermen in attendance. I was not the public representative who asked if they would support the Bill because I knew the answer before the question was asked. One public representative was unwise enough to ask the question, and they answered that they would not support the Bill. My worry is that we are going to tie ourselves up in knots here in legal actions being taken to stop the progression of the legislation because the consultation has not taken place.

There is 220 million acres of sea out there. Certainly, according to The Skipper magazine, most of those acres are taken up by foreign vessels. The rights of the Irish fishers are being squeezed. They are being squeezed out of their own waters. We are going to take more acreage away from them, and a massive amount of acreage is required for the construction of these offshore wind projects. It looks like developers have picked out sites that they feel are suitable and they are going to go ahead. That will take a massive amount of sea away from the men and women who are out there fishing and are already struggling. They are asking what compensation they are going to get. They are going to lose a massive amount of sea when these projects are constructed. Will they regain some of the fishing areas that have been handed over to the foreign fleets for the past 30 years? Is that where we can win back areas of ground? Is important that the Minister of State clarifies that. Most of the fishermen at the meeting I attended are members of the Irish south-west fishermen's co-operative organisation. They were 100% against any developments that are planned at sea because they feel that it will lead to a massive loss in income for them. I would appreciate it if the Minister of State could allay their fears. Better consultation needs to be undertaken out there to ensure the Government brings people like that with it.

Marine biodiversity is a huge issue and we need to ensure that it is protected. However, the income of fishermen is currently at an all-time low thanks to the passing of the massively negative Brexit deal that was done against the Irish fishermen. There are further worries that they could lose more acreage of sea out there. There was good engagement on Committee Stage, but I think we need to look outside the committee and bring the people of this country with us on this issue. If the Government can win that battle, I will be 100% behind it. It is going to be a big struggle, because there is a lot of suspicion on the part of Irish fishers in relation to politics in this country. I think it is an issue that this Government will be unable to tackle. Perhaps I am wrong. However, on the developments that are going to be happening at sea, the fishers want clarity and have asked for it. They made it very clear that they are totally opposed to the legislation until they get that clarity. The Government will struggle to bring them along with it, but it cannot walk away and turn its back on them and expect them to accept another blow to their income. While we have to protect marine areas and marine biodiversity, we must protect the fishers out there who are going to lose heavily as a result of this legislation. Perhaps the Minister of State can clarify that point.

I concur with Deputy Michael Collins in his point in relation to fishermen's incomes. Their situation is bad enough as it is.

It cannot make their situation any worse. When one sees how expansive Ireland's shores are, we realise how far-reaching the Bill will be. The sea is all around us. One can barely think of what is involved because there is so much involved, especially with our piers and harbours. People hope the Bill will not impinge on people's rights in using the sea, which they have been doing in different ways to make a living. We must also consider people in the tourism business such as those who run the small boats that take people out for tours of the bay. We hope this will not mean anything will change for them, only to improve things.

Included in the Bill is provision for dredging piers and harbours. The nearest pier to me is Kenmare. It is a beautiful place all around it, but I feel that it could be developed way more. The pier has not been cleaned out for nearly 70 years. The slag boats came into Kenmare up until 1960 or 1962, but they could not get in there now because the pier is badly in need of dredging. That needs to be looked at. I am sure there are other places apart from Kenmare with similar issues, but Kenmare pier is the nearest one to me. I gave a lot of my time on the edge of the pier working for Kerry County Council, even with cleaning of the seaweed along the pier. I hope that this will be included if the Bill is to be effective to help our local situation. This place is only 50 m away from the top of Kenmare town. If the pier was dredged it would have a massively positive impact for the town and for places local to the town. The pier itself should be developed and modernised to allow more boats to come in during the summer. The River Roughty cannot get out at the pier when the mouth of the bay is blocked, and then we are talking about flooding, and it is said that climate change is causing it. There are a lot of things that used to be done before that are not done at all now, including dredging of our rivers and dredging the mouths where the rivers run into a bay. Those things also need to be looked at.

The Deputy is moving away from the amendment.

I am also concerned about wind turbines out in the bay and where they will be placed. If they are impacting on fishers and trawlers it would not be helpful. There are many other issues around where they are sited and of course planning will decide that. We are all for more energy and more renewable energy but it must be fair to the people who are depending on the sea for their income, in whatever way that is. I hope the Bill will not be against locals in anyway. I will be watching intently as to what happens in that regard.

I thank the Deputies for putting down the amendment and for the opportunity to speak on it. With regard to marine protected areas, members of the committee will remember, and Members of the House will have seen, the report from the Oireachtas committee and the recommendations we made when we were carrying out the pre-legislative scrutiny on the marine development management Bill, as it was known at that stage. The first recommendation of that report was that marine protected areas would be included in this Bill or that we would designate marine protected areas under separate parallel legislation, which is exactly what is happening at the moment. That is exactly what we are doing. We are taking that committee recommendation and putting together a fit-for-purpose and very clear planning Bill for how we are going to develop Ireland's offshore area. It is not just about wind turbines; it is also about laying cables and anything that might happen in our massive marine area, which is 500,000 sq. km. This legislation is needed because all we had previously was the Foreshore (Amendment) Act, which is pretty outdated now and not fit for purpose.

The committee spent a lot of time on Committee Stage of this Bill. The marine protected areas were discussed on Committee Stage. The committee agreed that we would have an update from the Department on the progress on marine protected areas. Yesterday we had a very long, interesting and comprehensive presentation on marine protected areas from the Department by a very knowledgeable contributor, and we heard about the progress that is being made on that.

Contrary to Deputy Ó Broin's expression earlier that he is more worried now, I am actually more confident now because we are not starting from scratch with regard to marine protected areas. Yesterday we heard that we will look to those other countries that lead on this, and we will take their learning experience and apply it to the Irish situation. To me that makes a lot of sense. One does not reinvent the wheel. I am heartened by the amount of support and the attention that the protection of the marine area is getting lately. I am aware that this is prompted by consideration of offshore renewable development, but for many of us who have been at this for the past 20 or 30 years, including with terrestrial protection, aquatic marine protection and marine protection, this is positive.

If we create a marine protected area, it does not mean we ignore everything that is outside that marine protected area. One applies a precautionary principle where such designations are not done. We know this, we heard this yesterday and it makes sense. One of the tenets of environmental protection across European directives is that one applies the precautionary principle. Any planning application out there at the moment will have gone through a lot of hoops to get to the planning application stage. There are surveys to be done and a lot of scientific data and information that we do not have at the moment to be generated. That would be helpful for us in protecting our marine areas. One applies the precautionary principle and carries out stringent environmental impact assessments on any type of development proposed in the marine area. We know this has to be done, regardless of the fact that a line is drawn or a marker is put out to say that this is a marine protected area. At the moment we do not have a definition of what a marine protected area is. We do not know what we are going to have to apply to marine protected areas. We do not know what one can do in a marine protected area. We do not know whether there are activities that might be complementary to each other. We do not know if there are activities that should be suspended for a certain period of time. These things will change over time. It is not a matter of just drawing a line on a map and saying "It is a protected area, job done and away we go." One of the concepts of environmental management is the constant monitoring and addressing of issues as they arise. One goes through that and then there is the plan. This is what we are doing at the moment. We heard that yesterday and the planning is advanced on this.

We are aware that the general scheme for the marine protected areas Bill will be coming to us sometime next year. The committee will meet on that, and we agreed on this yesterday. I look forward to the pre-legislative scrutiny. I have no doubt that the three Members opposite me in the Chamber today will also be in attendance for that. It is very important. We will get it right because it is vital, critical and important that we get it right.

On the review of the national marine planning framework, I believe this is the most comprehensive document out there. I have said many times on the record that if somebody came to me and asked me for information about our marine area, the first document I would direct them to is the national marine planning framework. We are aware of the amount of mapping that has been done and the amount of information that has been gathered in that regard. That is our overarching policy.

That is how we intertwine everything we are going to do in the marine area. We know that one of the core tenets of that document is the protection of the environment, which comes first in every heading on that document. We know that is the overarching principle we are going to apply to development we do in that sea area, namely, to protect the environment.

I heard the contribution from Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and concerns about fishermen. Environmentalists, those who want to protect the sea, and fishermen want the same thing. They want to see the marine area healthy, whether it is for their livelihood or for all the other benefits that a healthy marine and healthy seas bring, such as carbon sequestration, tourism and recreation. Everybody wants the same thing out of the marine area and I think we are all united on that in this House. However, with regard to the national marine planning framework, NMPF, we know that document will be reviewed. We know these planning documents generally get reviewed every six years but we did hear, when we had the briefing in committee, that we expect that national marine planning framework review to happen in a shorter timeframe than six years and I am confident we will see that happen.

It is the first iteration of that document. The consultation and the putting together of that document took a long time. I think it started in 2017, a wide range of stakeholders were involved and the stakeholder group still meets on it. However, because of how comprehensive the first document is, it makes sense to review it in a shorter term than that six years. I believe we heard a commitment to do that when we discussed it in committee the last time.

I will read the scripted response and then try to address some of the concerns, although quite a few of them have been addressed by my colleague, Deputy Matthews.

Amendment No. 10 proposes that a review of the NMPF be commenced within one month of enactment of this legislation. It is similar to amendment No. 83 on Committee Stage, which proposed that the recently-made NMPF be reviewed within one year of the first publication, although that was voted against. We are now at one month post-enactment of this Bill. Indeed, this proposed amendment contains many of the same deficiencies as earlier proposed amendments of the NMPF, including providing for particular pillars of sustainable development and sectors to the exclusion of others, thus upsetting the neutrality of the legislation by requiring compliance with very specific and selected provisions of directives other than the maritime spatial planning, MSP, directive, some of which are already covered elsewhere in the Bill, such as the birds and habitats directives and other matters outside the requirements of the MSP directive, to which this Bill is giving effect.

These points have been discussed in detail on Committee Stage. The intention to up-end a plan that has only just been adopted and has yet to properly bed in is simply unacceptable to the Government. I understand the Deputies are not happy with the NMPF but it is Ireland's national marine plan, the first of a series of interconnected and related spatial plans for the maritime area, and we will simply not go back four years to the beginning, holding off everything else just to keep a small number of Opposition Deputies happy in this regard. The Government takes marine management seriously, we take decarbonisation seriously and we take the protection of our maritime area very seriously. We must move forward and we are moving forward.

As stated on Committee Stage, the requirement of section 17 is that the review will be carried out within six years but it is our intention that we will carry out this review sooner, particularly for the first national maritime spatial plan. However, we must focus our resources on getting the system up and running and I am happy that the existing NMPF underpins the system appropriately in its current form.

To touch on some of the details of the proposed amendment, it has the effect that no maritime area consents or development consents can be granted pending the conclusion of the aforementioned review. This would simply have the effect of rendering significant parts of this Bill inoperable for a period of time, thus undermining the purpose of the legislation. This proposal is, of itself, extremely concerning as it would also mean that where one is currently permitted to obtain planning permission on the foreshore under Part 15 of the Planning Act, this right would effectively be removed by the proposed subsection (2). To be clear, under this amendment, no harbours could be expanded, no boat houses constructed and no recreational jetties or pontoons erected pending a review of a national plan that is just six months old. Moreover, this subsection runs counter to another amendment proposed by some of the Deputies where planning permission can in fact be granted provided, strangely, and in a first for the State, that An Bord Pleanála carries out a review of the NMPF. Amendment No. 55 also refers.

In regard to the bodies that should be consulted during the proposed review, many of these bodies were already central to the production of the NMPF and sat on the marine advisory group for the four years that the plan was being prepared. The NMPF has, I should note for the record, been broadly and widely welcomed by members of the advisory group and further afield. I appreciate the Deputies’ intention to ensure participation of certain organisations and that is why public participation, including the input of relevant organisations, is stitched into the very formulation of the maritime spatial plans, ensuring that relevant views are taken into account throughout the entire process. Prescribing certain organisations in primary legislation for consultation is actually a lesser form of participation than the one the Bill envisages. I would be concerned that any attempt at prescription in this regard runs the risk of inadvertently excluding organisations that may have valuable input to offer. The spirit of the proposal is, therefore, already incorporated in a more effective way into the Bill. In fact, the advisory group involved in the preparation of the NMPF was far more comprehensive but did include some of the reference groups such as An Taisce and the Sustainable Water Network Ireland, or SWAN.

The proposed amendment also provides for a list of provisions of the MSP directive to be taken into account in the review of the NMPF. I point out to the Deputies that sections 16 and 17 of the Bill already ensure compliance with the MSP directive for the purpose of maritime spatial planning. We clearly disagree on this but I am happy with the text we have produced. I must say I find it challenging to understand why Deputies are insisting on compliance with the recitals of the directive in addition to specified articles which are to be completed in any event, but this is an aside. Our approach was discussed in detail on Committee Stage.

The amendment also refers to matters relating to marine protected areas, MPAs. As I have previously indicated, this Bill simply does not legislate for this as marine protected areas are subject to separate legislation and there is no requirement to conflate the MSP directive with the marine strategy framework directive in one piece of enabling legislation. Indeed, the latest MSP global international guide on maritime spatial planning prepared by UNESCO and the European Commission, published this year, reinforces the distinction between the two maritime governance tools. I can, however, assure members that any review of the NMPF will be undertaken in the context of the prevailing regulatory environment.

To return to the substance of the amendment, I am happy with the current NMPF and it forms the basis for all future plans and projects in the maritime area. I will not be ripping it up after just a year and starting again. I am happy that the legislation as set before this House is robust and in compliance with the directives that should be complied with. Accordingly, I will be opposing this amendment.

In the time I have left, I will try to address some of the points raised, in particular those raised by Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Cian O'Callaghan. It is certainly the case, and I had hoped that the committee session yesterday would have reassured the Deputies, that the MPA process and the maritime area planning are interconnected pieces of work and that significant work has already been undertaken. While the legislation is being drafted, it will probably be mid-year next year before we see a legalised definition of MPAs in an Irish context. As Mr. Richard Cronin and Dr. Oliver Ó Cadhla pointed out yesterday, significant work has been undertaken around the features we want to protect, looking at migratory species and a lot of the other interconnected elements of that, on which incredible work has been done. The resources we are putting in are quite significant at this stage.

We talked about interim measures. We could certainly see significant progression on the 10% target that we missed for 2020 being achieved towards the end of 2022 and into 2023. There is a good alignment of what we are trying to achieve. Certainly, we will have to present to COP15 in Kunming next year and, again, we will be able to update all of these elements around our biodiversity targets.

Deputy Michael Collins raised issues with regard to fisheries. There was significant consultation, particularly on the MPAs, and we travelled coastal areas and met with fisher communities. They all want the same thing. Everybody wants marine protected areas and everybody wants a good regulatory environment to support this. I think we are making significant progress. I hope that, following yesterday’s meeting, Deputies will be reassured that the processes are in tandem with each other.

To be clear, nobody is talking about ripping up the marine planning framework. There are many aspects of the marine planning framework which are very good, so it is important the Minister of State understands that we are not opposed to it or asking to rewrite it, and we would just like the review to happen earlier. While the Minister of State is correct that the Government does have to comply with the various articles of various EU directives, there is a long history of weak, poor or non-compliance with said directives, which is, of course, why we are so often in front of the European Court of Justice and found in breach of similar articles. Therefore, the value of citing those particular articles is to strengthen the need for compliance.

I want to focus in the minute remaining to me on the lag between the marine protected areas legislation, with its crucial role in protecting marine biodiversity, and this Bill. Deputy Matthews was being a little unfair in some of what he said. It would have been helpful if he had remained in the Chamber because I fully agree with most of his contribution. The really concerning point from what we heard yesterday is that we are not going to have formal, legally protected marine protected areas until 2023, 2024 and 2025 because the legislation will not be in place until 2023. That is the clear import of the briefing yesterday by the Minister of State's officials. Nobody was in any way suggesting the officials have not been working exceptionally hard, like the officials who have been working on this incredibly complex and technical legislation. There is a volume of work happening behind the scenes that we have always acknowledged. The reality, however, is that we are going to have a Minister, following the passage of this legislation today, granting maritime area consents, and private industry and public, semi-State companies applying for planning permissions, three years before we have decisions on designation.

That is a significant thing and I know the Minister of State agrees it is, whatever about what he says on the floor of the Dáil, because he is passionate about protecting biodiversity, including marine biodiversity. I ask that he come back specifically on this issue, which is of concern to me. In the absence of marine protected areas, what interim measures can be taken?

The Deputy's time is up.

I have seven seconds left.

He has had more than seven seconds already.

We heard yesterday that the sensitivity mapping is not going to be complete until the end of next year. That is a significant time lag. What interim measures will be in place to ensure marine diversity is protected?

This amendment is not in any way an attempt to dis the work that has been put in by officials to the marine planning framework or around this Bill. It is a serious piece of legislative work. However, there is a concern and the Minister of State and his officials know what that concern is. I asked one of the officials yesterday whether we are behind the curve on marine protected areas. He had to say "Yes" and that the situation we are in is not ideal. That is a blunt admission of the problem we face. Only a tiny amount of our enormous maritime area, which is precious, is protected, because successive governments - not this one, in particular, but previous governments - have failed to protect it. We are in a situation where we know corporate interests are lobbying explicitly, saying they do not want a plan-led approach to the development of our marine areas. That is what the Irish Wind Energy Association said. It does not want such a approach but, instead, a developer-led approach.

Those same corporate interests have been given special status under the national marine planning framework. That is a concern. We want to know what protection there is in that respect. We do not think they should have special status, to put it bluntly, given the agenda we know they have. They do not want plan-led development. They see the EU directives and proper planning and development as a block to their ability to make profit from our marine environment. While they might say this is all being done in the name of climate action, it is worth repeating that the most important carbon sink, bar none, is the sea. If we cut off our nose to spite our face in terms of destruction of the marine environment, it will cost us in our fight against climate change and biodiversity protection. That is what this amendment is directed at.

Taking up Deputy Boyd Barrett's point, that is what is so important about this amendment. Our marine environment has huge value for the people working in it, huge economic potential and huge value in terms of its biodiversity, but its role in carbon capture and as a carbon sink also has an incredible value. It does not make any sense to do something to tackle climate change that will potentially damage that role.

It is disappointing that the Minister of State suggested that we are calling for the national marine planning framework to be ripped up. No one here has called for that. We acknowledge that a huge amount of work has gone into it. What we are specifically calling for in this amendment is a review and explicit assessment of the framework against specific articles of the habitats directive, the maritime strategy framework directive and the birds directive. I do not take the view that a parallel process is happening here. Clearly, what is happening is that we are seeing the planning framework, which is needed, being put in place first and the marine protected areas being put in place after that. It is not a parallel process. I appreciate work is happening on both processes in parallel but the fact we are concluding this Bill shortly means its provisions will come into operation first, potentially several years ahead of marine protected areas being put in place in full. That is the issue. The two processes are not happening in parallel. What interim measures will be put in place to protect sensitive marine environments pending the designation of the marine protected areas?

On the point around marine protected areas, there are protections in place within the planning system, which, insofar as has been possible, have been written into the material considerations for both the board and local authorities, under sections 293(3) and 282(2), respectively, of the 2000 Act, as inserted by the Bill. This means that any legislation and designations emanating from the transposition of the marine strategy framework directive will be a material consideration in any planning application. In addition, the relevant provisions of the planning Acts in respect of environmental impact and other appropriate assessments will be applied to decisions under the provisions in this Bill.

I want to assure the Deputies again regarding the marine protected areas. As I am sure Deputy Boyd Barrett has noted, this is an iterative process, on which we have had public consultation. We are still trying to distil the 3,000-plus submissions we received. We are clear that in designing legislation governing marine protected areas, the ongoing elements of public consultation will be a continual part of that process. I go back to the point that all of these plans are interconnected and supportive of what we are trying to achieve with marine protected areas and marine biodiversity. I give that assurance to Members.

Is Deputy Boyd Barrett pressing the amendment?

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 65; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Eoin Ó Broin; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 29, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“(3) Within 2 months following enactment the Minister shall implement a process to provide for interim protection in the marine environment of the existing NMPF to ensure the designation of marine protected areas in accordance with Article 13(4) of Directive 2008/56/EC is not compromised and notwithstanding anything elsewhere in this Act no Maritime Area Consent or Development Consent shall be granted until that process is completed.”.

What we are seeking, and this follows on from the discussion we had earlier, is to establish interim protections pending the review of the national marine planning framework in accordance with Article 13(4) of the marine strategy framework directive. The relevant section states:

Programmes of measures established pursuant to this Article shall include spatial protection measures, contributing to coherent and representative networks of marine protected areas, adequately covering the diversity of the constituent ecosystems, such as special areas of conservation pursuant to the Habitats Directive, special protection areas pursuant to the Birds Directive, and marine protected areas as agreed by the Community or Member States concerned in the framework of international or regional agreements to which they are parties.

That is the section the amendment refers to and it is about having those interim protections, given there has been, I believe, an acknowledgement that we are behind the curve in terms of the marine protected areas we should have. That is what we are trying to achieve. We do not believe consents for major development of the marine that could damage the marine should be given until such interim protections have been established.

The Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, is correct. Clearly, there are protections in the planning process in advance of the designation of marine protected areas. The challenge is that they are not strong, particularly as they do not have to take into account to the same extent the ecosystems approach, which is crucial both to the maritime special planning directive and the marine protected areas legislation. What would be reassuring is, while the good work is under way on the marine protected areas legislation and the subsequent designation, that there would be other interim measures or protections, particularly in respect of the seven locations where the legacy projects are to be advanced and clearly need to be advanced over the next year to two years, that could move us somewhere from where we would otherwise be, which is the EIA requirements and so forth under existing planning legislation and this Bill, to the stronger position of the marine protected areas.

I know the Minister of State will not accept the amendment so I do not want to waste his time, but I am trying to press him to say that there have be additional interim measures. His section of the Department and the folks who are looking at the planning regime need to do more work between now and when the maritime area consents, MACs, and the planning applications for the legacy projects are developed to ensure that in the interim period we have the strongest possible protections, particularly from an ecosystems-based approach for marine biodiversity, so we get the best of both worlds. We are on the same page on this one. It is just whether more can be done in terms of the interim measures. The amendment sets out a process by which such interim measures could be put in place. The Minister of State is not going to accept it, but that does not stop him doing more work on the interim measures in the intervening period.

To follow up on that, I am particularly concerned that the sensitivity mapping will not be completed until the end of 2022 and about the difficulties that poses. Can that be completed faster? If it is not going to be completed faster, what interim protections and measures can be put in place? When we were engaged on this on Committee Stage, one of the first issues we discussed was the need for immediate sensitivity mapping because there were going to be delays in respect of the marine protected areas. It would be great if the Minister of State could address that.

I will take the opportunity at this critical time to say that when we are talking about the protection and the future roadmap that we are trying to make, our job really is that we are charged with ensuring that people will be able to make a livelihood or a part-time livelihood in the future. That is the basic thrust of what we are trying to do. In doing that the Members are making very sound points and sincere arguments. I wish to make one point and a heartfelt plea with regard to smaller fishermen and inshore fishermen. They are the people along both sides of what I call the Kenmare river and what some people call Kenmare Bay.

All around our coast, we have small people who traditionally back over the years, like their fathers and grandfathers before them, had a boat. Over the years it has evolved and they might have got smaller. For some of them their enterprise might have got bigger and they adjusted it to suit their household. However, they are under severe threat from pair trawling, something the Minister of State knows about. It devastates a fishing habitat area. It is a practice that must be questioned. I can see the point of view of the people who own the boats and carry out pair trawling. I know some of them and have debated the matter with them. While I appreciate it is their livelihood, for all intents and purposes they are vacuuming up everything that is in the water, mixing it and making pulp out of it. Expensive valuable fish get mixed up with mackerel and it is mushed up into pulp. There is no individualisation or grading of the fish or anything like that.

The traditional fishermen who might have gone out and fished for salmon or other fish are finding that all of a sudden the whole place has been vacuumed up, sucked up and mushed up, and they are left with nothing. The Ceann Comhairle would pull me up if I were not talking to the subject at hand. We are talking about the protection of a habitat and making sure it is there for the future. If the breeding fish and everything else are taken out of the water, the place is left devoid of any life. If someone comes along and sucks everything out, it is a very slow process for it to come back in again. It goes against the grain of everything. It is like going into a farmer's yard and taking the bull out of the herd. If the bull is gone, there will be nothing after a certain length of time. It is the same thing with breeding areas for fish and our habitats as we call them. I just want to make that point.

I do not want to take up too much time and interfere with other people. I want to put that point on the record. We need to look at that practice. I am talking about a specific area. I could talk about other parts of the coastline in County Kerry that I know most about. I am giving the example of the Kenmare river. How does it make sense when a big trawler pair trawls, hoovers up everything from one side to the other and takes everything out of the middle? Absolutely nothing is left for the small traditional fisherman and his or her part-time living is gone. We cannot stand over that.

I very much respect that if I met one of the people who owns those trawlers, they would say, "What about me?" I can see where they are coming from, but the practice of pair trawling is fundamentally questionable.

I will first address some of the issues before I give a comment specific to the amendment. We can all agree with Deputy Michael Healy-Rae that that type of activity is completely unsustainable. When we travelled around the coastal areas of the country, the last place we entered was Portmagee. We are very clear that the fishers in particular want marine protection for their own activities. That is not to say that no activities may take place in marine protected areas. It is just setting about the objectives and the types of features we want to protect within protected areas, which will include heritage fishing and traditional fishing. We want to ensure that type of activity is protected within the marine environment. We were always clear that this is not just about the marine. It is about people in coastal communities. The points the Deputy made are critical to what we are trying to achieve with marine protected areas.

Deputy Cian O'Callaghan spoke about sensitivity mapping. As Deputy Boyd Barrett said, we started from behind the curve relative to other countries, but we are rapidly catching up and we are putting significant resources into this area. I am confident that we will have the legislative part of it, hopefully towards the first half of 2022, and that will give us the legislative context for marine protected areas, which is critically important.

I stress that this is not an either-or situation. We are trying to achieve the best for marine protection and to have an active marine environment - a blue economy - while protecting blue carbon, seagrasses and all the other features we also want to protect in the marine. As I said previously, there is already within the planning system a requirement for appropriate assessments and SEAs in all developments.

This amendment again conflates the MSP directive with the marine strategy framework directive and seeks to upend the implementation of one over the other. Both will need to be provided for on the Statute Book and we are acting on that.

Regarding marine protected areas, the progress to deliver the commitments contained in the programme for Government have been significant and encouraging. Following on from the independent expert advisory group report published in January of this year and in tandem with the review of the analysis of submissions received through the subsequent public consultation process from February to July, we have commenced work on developing a general scheme of new MPA legislation. The development of this legislation is expected to continue into 2022. Officials from our Department provided a progress update on marine protected areas to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage yesterday.

The substance of this amendment is about protection of the marine environment and it requires that nothing happens in the maritime area until interim measures are put in place to protect potential MPAs. I am not sure that the Deputies fully appreciate the impact of this amendment on local coastal communities. I have previously said that this Bill is for all maritime users. This amendment would have significant and severe consequences on local fisheries, ports, harbours, tourist facilities, local boat clubs and persons who privately own parts of the current foreshore. None of these would be expanded, amended or improved until the work referred to in this amendment was completed.

Existing rights under Part 15 of the Planning and Development Act would be lost. Where is the justification for such severe action? Where is the timeline for these measures? How will the public know when they can start to interact with their maritime area again? There is an overreach here that impacts on all maritime users. As the Deputy put it on Committee Stage, the net has been cast far too wide.

There is no definition of exactly what these interim measures are or how they would interact with the relevant provisions in either the MAC assessment criteria or the criteria coastal planning authorities or An Bord Pleanála must have regard to when assessing planning applications. There is no indication as to how they would relate to the maritime licensing system being proposed, which is separate from both the MAC and planning parts. This is extremely important from a legislative point of view. How would it work? It appears that there are no express obligations to have regard to any of these so-called interim measures in decision-making and no further thought put into their operation. I will not accept the amendment.

The Minister of State is not accepting the amendment.

I think we had established that quite clearly and accept it with good grace.

I have one question. Is the Minister of State saying that there will be no additional interim protections in those areas where legacy projects are going to advance beyond the requirements within the existing planning regime in this Bill for environmental impact assessments and appropriate assessments? While I do not agree with his interpretation of the amendment, I will not waste our time arguing about that. We should have some additional level of interim protections for those specific geographic locations by, for example, ensuring that the sensitivity mapping was accelerated for those areas or when the map legislation is in place that those areas are considered first. The Department must be able to think of some additional measures to give a greater level of protection to those areas above and beyond what is already in place.

That is the point. If there is an acceptance, which there certainly seems to be from some of the officials we met yesterday, that we are behind the curve in protecting areas and it is likely to be some time before they are protected, then there is a problem with these legacy projects, which will result in large numbers of giant wind turbines placed very close to the shore along the east coast and other coastal areas that will have significant impacts on fisher, and potentially on marine environment biology, biodiversity and so on. If it will be some years before we designate the marine protected areas, how do we know that these should not be marine protected areas?

Yet we may issue consents for development. We are where we are, to use that horrible phrase, but can interim measures be taken to ensure these should be marine protected areas in advance of the wider requirement to do so, which we understand will take longer? That is the point. It would be a travesty if industrial development consents for these areas are given out and then we discover afterwards they should have been marine protected areas and we have done damage in the meantime. We are asking for interim measures with a focus on those particular sites to ensure they have the proper level of protection before any development consents are given.

Although it is not necessarily just from the Minister of State, there is almost a narrative that we should not worry because there are other protections and ways of assessing these areas. If that was the case, of course, why would we have marine protected areas, this planning framework, sensitivity mapping or all this work? I am not confident, from what is being said, that these areas will get the same level of protection as they would in a few years if marine protected areas were in place. Therefore, there is a need for interim measures or protections to ensure damage or mistakes are not made at this point. Will the Minister of State address that?

I understand where the Deputies are coming from on the interim measures. We all want to ensure that as we develop in a maritime area, we have protections in place for that fragile environment. We are all aware of that. However, the wording of the amendment does not deal in specifics, although I understand the Deputy's point from his comments. He spoke about relevant projects but the wording would place unsureness in the planning system for everything we want to do both in the near shore and offshore. This could have an effect on recreation and tourism.

I fully understand and accept where the Deputy is coming from regarding interim measures but the amendment has not been drafted in a way that would create sureness in a system. It would, in contrast, bring unsureness to the system and it might create further difficulties for environmental protection. If we go for planning consent and we have undefined interim measures in place, it could create further confusion, which might result in actions we do not want. We are trying to put in place a fit-for-purpose planning regime that caters for the protection of a fragile environment and gives sureness for those who wish to develop in the maritime area. We are not just talking about the offshore renewable industry in this respect but recreational development, including piers, marinas and all of that fantastic coastal recreation opportunity we have around the country. It will also include fishers.

We must be careful in writing legislation as we are making the law. It is not a policy document that would allow us to go further and describe interim measures. I have learned a valuable lesson about drafting amendments, which is that we must draft amendments in a specific way so they can be legally enforceable without creating further confusion. They should create sureness in the planning system rather than more confusion. We want a sure planning system.

We know we will develop the offshore area and the potential that exists not just in the seven relevant projects but in our programme for Government, which provides for 30 GW of offshore floating development. That will happen off the west coast at some point as well. The technology is not quite there yet but I can see over the next five to ten years this technology improving so we can harness the fantastic wind speed we have out there. We have some of the best wind speeds in Europe. When writing the legislation, we want to provide sureness for such development rather than include measures that may create uncertainty, confusion and perhaps bring decisions in the planning process before the courts because "interim measure" has not been defined, for example. We have not even defined what is a "marine protected area". These must be clearly defined, along with the intention of creating the areas, how we will manage and monitor them and how we will make changes as necessary when power moves on.

We want to have good environmental protection across the board and any development, whether on land or at sea, in certain sensitive areas and all these maritime areas, will require an environmental impact assessment. That will provide data to ensure we can protect the marine environment. We have heard that we are short much scientific data and much of the detail we need for those environments. That is so we can be sure the protections we are putting in place are suitable for what is in the environment, which is critical. We know why we create special areas of conservation or special protected areas under EU directives and the wildlife Acts. It is because of the habitats and species that exist in them. We must work the same way with marine protected areas when we are crafting legislation for planning at sea.

Again, Deputy Matthews has summed up pretty much what I want to say. That there is no definition of "interim measure" would really leave us in a bind if we pursued this amendment. I would most likely have to go back out and do the public consultation again for the marine protected areas because it was not something identified in the expert group report. It is not possible to do this. As Deputy Matthews has said, we do not have a definition of "marine protected areas" in an Irish context or the legislation for those areas. We are still trying to distil the huge input from the public consultation on the matter, which is also critical.

Again, the amendment presumes there are currently no environmental protections in the maritime area, which is just not the case, as there are. Deputies should feel assured by that. I am disappointed they did not feel some sense of reassurance from the presentation they received at yesterday's Oireachtas joint committee meeting yesterday.

Is the amendment being pressed?

Yes. I do not accept the Minister of State's response to our amendment and he has not addressed the substantial point, even if he does not agree technically with the amendment. He has not addressed the substantial point. It seems there is agreement that there will be an interregnum in which we will not have done what we should for marine protected areas with respect to these relevant projects. What is the answer to the question? What happens if we discover later that they should have been designated as protected areas? We are asking for interim measures to be put in place quickly.

If this happened and we assessed whether sites should be protected, consents could be issued afterwards. There is an existing regime for foreshore licences and all the rest of it. I do not buy the argument that nothing else can happen. In any case, we are asking for this to be done quickly. We are not suggesting this should go on and on for ages but rather that there be particular interim measures directed at those areas with legacy projects to ensure damage is not done. The Minister of State has not addressed the substantial point but is arguing on a technicality about the amendment.

By the way, we are dealing with an absolute glut of legislation, so arguing on a technicality is not really fair. We are meant to be downstairs right now in a committee room dealing with another Bill while this happens in the Dáil Chamber. That is what we are dealing with. A technical sort of argument is not acceptable.

The Deputy will have to recruit new Members to assist him.

You will have to recruit new Members to assist.

Those of us with more Members are struggling with the schedule. It is not your fault.

It is not, thank God.

Not this time anyway.

No, nor at any other time.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 17 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 30, lines 2 and 3, to delete “section 17(2)(a) or (3)(a), as appropriate, applies following a review referred to in that section” and substitute “initiating a review referred to in section 17(2) or (3), as appropriate,".

These amendments arise from the discussion on Committee Stage and seek to clarify when a public participation statement would be prepared in respect of both a maritime spatial plan and a DMAP.

Amendment No. 12 relates to the national level plan. The purpose of this amendment is to be clear that the public participation statement should be prepared at the initiation of the review of the national marine planning framework, NMPF, or the marine spatial plans rather than at that publication of a draft revised plan emanating from that review. The references to subsections (2)(a) and (3)(a) of section 17 are to be deleted and replaced with by references to the initiation of the reviews at subsections (2) or (3) of section 17.

In effect, the competent authority must provide for public participation from the earliest stage and it must be ongoing throughout the review and development of maritime spatial plans. This amendment is proposed on foot of a commitment made by the Minister of State at Committee Stage to review the timing of the publication of the public participation statement.

Amendment No. 17 clarifies this for DMAPs and provides that the public participation statement is published by the competent authority as soon as possible after the approval of the DMAP proposal. This amendment places consideration of the public participation process at the earliest possible stage and will ensure that public participation will be ongoing throughout the developments of DMAPs. Involving the public at this early stage will be crucial to influencing and shaping the development of plans. The amendment arises from a commitment given by the Minister of State at Committee Stage to review this issue.

These are further amendments that I am pleased to say arose from collaborative discussions on Committee Stage. It is evident that we need to ensure and clarify that public participation on marine spatial plans and designated maritime area plans should occur at the earliest possible stage in preparation of these plans. I thank the Deputies for their contributions and queries that resulted in these amendments being put forward and I hope they will support them.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 31, line 26, to delete “MSP” and substitute “DMAP”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 32, line 5, after “body” to insert “(other than a public body which falls within paragraph (d) of the definition of “public body”)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 34, line 32, after “colocation” to insert “or coexistence”.

I wish to make a quick clarification on this amendment. I do not wish to comment on it.

I should have asked this earlier and thank the Ceann Comhairle for his indulgence. Will the Minister of State explain why "colocation" remains? The purpose of coexistence is the language from the directive. What is the value of this? I do not oppose the amendment, but I would like clarification on why "colocation" is being left in rather than replaced with "coexistence" which was agreed on Committee Stage.

I cannot give a response on that now, but I will get back to the Deputy, if that is okay.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 35, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:

“(3) Notwithstanding anything elsewhere in this Act, the competent authority (D) shall prepare a DMAP, or any amendment to a DMAP, in accordance with the following sections, and as if the reference to “MSP” in those sections was construed to read “draft DMAP”, and the references to “competent authority (M)” was construed to read “competent authority (D)”:

(a) Subsections (2), (4) and (5) of section 16, and

(b) Subsection (1) of section 17.”.

The import of this amendment is to ensure the DMAPs are consistent with the maritime spatial planning directive in exactly the same way as the maritime spatial plan and policy. We are looking to follow the exact same process for DMAPs as for the MSPs. I know the Minister of State will not be accepting the amendment, but I would like him to explain why if a more robust process is in place in this legislation for the MSPs, why is it not in place for the DMAPs given they have a level of significance that could cut across MSPs geographically or in terms of their content. I am interested to hear the Minister of State's response to this.

This amendment seeks to apply the requirements of the national maritime spatial plan to what is the comprehensive sub-national planning process - designated maritime area plans, DMAPs. It would upset and interfere with the intention of the DMAP concept. I accordance with section 20 of the Bill, designated maritime area plans may be prepared in respect of specified activities for one or more designated geographical or sectoral areas, or for both. The procedures as set out in the Bill are sufficiently flexible to enable the development of regional, local or sectoral plans by a designated competent authority, subject to the oversight of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Oireachtas approval. DMAPs will be prepared in the context of the existing NMPF and are required to specify the objectives of the NMPF it seeks to attain.

The DMAP concept differs from the national maritime spatial plan which provides and overall framework for the entire maritime area, incorporating ecological, economic and social priorities. The NMPF provides an holistic overarching policy position on MSP in Ireland and is the State's primary response to commitments under the MSP directive. DMAPs should not duplicate this but should operate within the general framework and enhance it by responding to more specific maritime planning needs, be they sectoral or localised. It is therefore not appropriate to apply all the requirements of an national marine plan to a sectoral or geographically specific plan as to do so would undermine the purpose and functionality of a DMAP. However, in accordance with section 20(4) of the Bill, it is the Minister's responsibility in reviewing a DMAP proposal to consider whether or not it satisfies the requirements of the MSP directive and, again, when reviewing the draft DMAP.

The overarching objective of this amendment to comply with certain provisions is provided for by reference to the NMPF in sections 21, 22 and 28, and the MSP directive in sections 20, 23, 24 and 28. In addition, the requirements referred to in section 17(1) will already flow through the NMPF and MSP in any event, but may not be applicable to every DMAP proposed. Where they are relevant, they will be adhered to.

In short, this amendment as proposed would undermine the flexibility required for the DMAP concept and is not actually necessary, and, as such, I will not be accepting it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 35, lines 14 and 15, to delete “complying with section 22” and substitute “the relevant proposal has been approved under section 21(4)(a)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 37, to delete lines 16 to 23 and substitute the following:

“(3) Where the Minister ascertains an inconsistency referred to in subsection (2), he or she shall—

(a) make a recommendation in writing to the competent authority (D) to amend the draft DMAP to address the inconsistency, or

(b) in relation only to an inconsistency in respect of paragraphs (b) to (e) of subsection (2) give notice in writing to the competent authority (D) of the inconsistency and in that notice state that the draft DMAP does not need to be amended to avoid or mitigate the inconsistency,

as the Minister thinks fit in all the circumstances of the case, and shall state their reasons in full for such a decision.”.

Section 24(3) of the Bill allows the Minister to okay a designated marine area plan that is, potentially, inconsistent with the MSP directive. Our concern is about such a designated marine area plan, which is like the sub-plans within the wider framework. If there is an inconsistency between those sub-plans and the marine spatial planning directive, it should not be okay and the Minister should not have the power to okay it. Our amendment attempts to deal with that and ensure compliance with the marine spatial planning directive.

This amendment seeks to limit the Minister’s ability to issue a direction in respect of a DMAP and specifically limits the Minister’s ability to not require an amendment to a draft DMAP to those matters referred to in the preceding subsection that are not in the MSP directive. In other words, where there is an inconsistency with the MSP directive, the Minister must require an amendment to the draft DMAP if a direction on that basis is being issued. The Minister has a responsibility to comply with the directive. This matter was discussed at great length on Committee Stage. A Minister cannot issue a direction that would run contrary to the MSP directive.

While I understand where the Deputies are coming from on this, or at least their intention, this amendment is unnecessary in our view. If there were a serious inconsistency between the DMAP and the MSP directive, the Minister of the day would have to act accordingly, and this is a given. This amendment would essentially tie the Minister’s hands from issuing certain directions if he or she finds inconsistencies with compliance in different parts of the MSP directive that would not, perhaps, amount to a direct contravention of the directive or that could be resolved some other way than by amending the draft DMAP such as, perhaps, by amending the public participation statement or engaging in further consultation.

The amendment is therefore not only unnecessary but inappropriately limiting and confusing in carving out a specific reference to the maritime spatial planning directive. As such, I will not be supporting it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 46, line 14, to delete “Minster” and substitute “Minister”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 20 to 37, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 49, line 18, to delete “and (c)” and substitute “to (d)”.

Amendment No. 20 is a technical amendment to take account of an addition to section 45(2) in respect of matters of which the Minister shall take account when appointing members of the board.

The wording proposed in amendment No. 21 is a little bit gender-specific. There is a little bit of a problem with it. There are other gender identities which this binary gender description does not take into account when setting out the balance required on the board. I ask the Minister of State to consider that. The provision is very binary in that regard.

I am not sure how we could take that into consideration. With regard to this set of amendments, we were advised on Committee Stage that, to ensure confidence in the governance arrangements for the maritime area regulatory authority, MARA, a governance review of the establishing provisions was being undertaken. This review, having regard to the code of practice for governance of State bodies, has now been completed. This particular group of amendments seeks to adjust the structure of the MARA board and provide for other technical amendments to reflect that review.

To clarify, we are discussing all of the amendments between No. 20 and No. 37 at this point. If any Members wish to speak to any one of those amendments, they should do so now because I will formally be putting them to the floor after this.

I am not sure the Minister of State has answered my point.

I am not sure we can correct that in this legislation.

Perhaps the Minister of State should consider withdrawing it then because it is quite binary. Rather than having an excessively binary requirement, it may be better not to include the provision. We get the point. We want gender balance but we have to take all gender identities into account. I do not know how that issue can be resolved but, if the Minister of State recognises this as a problem, he should consider what he is going to do about it.

We accept that as a given but I am not sure this is something we can address in this specific legislation. I do not believe we can.

Did Deputy Gould want to make a contribution?

I will let the Minister of State in first.

Again, we are going to move this amendment but we can take this matter to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to try to address the specific issue Deputy Boyd Barrett has raised.

This was actually discussed on Committee Stage, was it not? We were expecting it to be corrected. We have to be very conscious in anything we publish and any Bills we pass going forward. I should not say "going forward"; we should always have been conscious in that way.

If we are to pursue the matter, we need to pursue it right across the legislative process rather than just in this specific legislation. Perhaps something could be brought through following discussion with the Minister. It is something the Legislature needs to discuss more broadly.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 50, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“(d) The Minister shall, in so far as is practicable, endeavour to ensure that among the members of the Board (M) there is an equitable balance between men and women.”.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 50, line 5, to delete “five” and substitute “four”.

Is this amendment No. 21?

No, this is amendment No. 22.

I am sorry; I am trying to keep up.

I am going very slowly.

Yes. Fair play to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle but she could not go slow enough for the amount of stuff we have to deal with here.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 50, line 8, to delete “five” and substitute “four”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 50, line 13, to delete “five” and substitute “four”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 50, line 21, to delete “10” and substitute “eight”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 51, line 4, to delete “10” and substitute “eight”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 54, line 24, to delete “Any five members of the Board (M)” and substitute the following:

“Any number of members of the Board (M) that is not fewer than the quorum for a meeting of the Board (M)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 54, line 27, to delete “five” and substitute “that number of”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 56, line 20, to delete “Government” and substitute “Board (M)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 56, line 35, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Board (M) with the prior approval of the Minister given”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 57, line 10, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Board (M)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 57, lines 11 to 13, to delete all words from and including “The” in line 11 down to and including “opinion” in line 13 and substitute the following:

“The Board (M) may, at any time and with the prior approval of the Minister, remove the chief executive officer from office if, in the opinion of the Board (M)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 57, line 20, to delete “Government” and substitute “Board (M)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 58, line 11, to delete “exercised” and substitute “performed”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 63, line 26, to delete “five” and substitute “three”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 64, line 25, to delete “two” and substitute “three”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 64, lines 34 to 38, to delete all words from and including “Not” in line 34 down to and including line 38 and substitute the following:

“Subject to subsections (2) and (4), the MARA shall, not later than 30 June in each year, prepare and adopt, and submit to the Minister, a report in writing (in this section referred to as the “annual report”) on its activities during the immediately preceding calendar year.

(2) The first annual report shall be prepared in respect of the period beginning on and including the establishment day and ending on and including 31 December of the immediately succeeding calendar year.”.

Have we discussed this amendment? I wanted to say something about it.

We have. It was grouped, and we cannot discuss it. The next amendment is in the Deputy's name.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 37a:

In page 68, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

“Activities for which an application for a MAC shall not be considered

77. A MAC shall not be granted for any development of the maritime area where such development consists of:

(a) an installation for the production of energy by harnessing the power of the wind, within 12 nautical miles of the nearest point of the high water mark, that has—

(i) more than 5 turbines, or

(ii) a total output of more than 5 megawatts;

(b) a development consisting of—

(i) 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,

(ii) 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,

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

(c) a development consisting, or for the purposes, of—

(i) a terminal, building or installation ancillary to a natural gas storage facility (either above or below the surface of the water or seabed) the storage capacity of which would exceed 1mscm, or

(ii) 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, and ancillary services.”.

Our proposed amendment seeks not to allow consideration for a maritime area consent, and consequently for any development consent at all, in respect of three types of activities we think maritime area consents should not be given for. I will go in reverse order. We do not believe that liquefied natural gas, LNG, infrastructure of any description should get maritime area consents because we are supposed to be tackling climate change. We know we must reduce fossil fuel use, and it runs counter to that requirement to entertain the possibility of building new infrastructure to bring liquefied natural gas into this country. We still rely on natural gas, obviously, but to build new infrastructure to import LNG would run counter to the stated commitment of the Government, and indeed of all parties, to reduce fossil fuel use and to combat climate change. Therefore, we think such proposals should simply not be considered for maritime area consents.

Similarly, anything to do with the extraction of fossil fuels should not be considered for maritime consents. One of the issues that concerned my community in recent years was the move by Providence Resources to try to drill for oil and gas close to the shore, on the Kish Bank, which is only 6 km to 10 km offshore. There were huge concerns about that potential development on many levels. In addition to local environmental and community concerns, there was also the major issue of the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In that regard, we should not in any way be facilitating further exploration for or extraction of fossil fuels which damage the environment. We do not believe that any such developments should be considered for maritime area consents.

Finally, and perhaps more controversially, but we believe this is in line with the practice in rest of Europe, we are proposing not to consider major industrial offshore wind developments closer to the shore than 12 nautical miles, the traditional foreshore distance, on the grounds that the undoubted general pattern across Europe is to move these big industrial wind farms off to a reasonable distance from the coast. One document I saw from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Germany stated the average distance for a major industrial development of wind farms in Germany is about 53 km. I also read a document produced by the Crown Estate, the body which represents the British Crown. It was an interesting publication about the development of offshore wind in the UK and the plans there in this regard. The base assumption there, in respect of looking at the costs of developing offshore wind farms, was that they would be developed 60 km offshore. That was the Crown Estate central scenario for looking at costs.

It is interesting information when we consider the relevant projects we are worried about getting in under the wire of the marine protected areas. I refer to those areas that should be there and where there are plans for developments, for example, on the Kish Bank in my area and for the Codling Wind Park project further down the Wicklow coast, that are only 6 km to 10 km offshore. Such projects would have a huge impact on those areas. We are talking about objects that are significantly higher than the two Poolbeg chimney stacks, and approximately 60 or 70 of these enormous things will be located in close proximity to the shore. They will impact on fishermen and on a sensitive landscape and seascape that is important on many levels for the community and for Dublin Bay generally as a tourist amenity and precious marine environment. We should be following best practice in Europe, which is to push that scale of industrial development further out to sea to ensure it does not have those negative impacts.

I say that as someone who believes that we must urgently develop offshore renewable resources. We must, though, have a buffer zone in place that is similar to the sorts of distances that are now becoming the norm across Europe. I am sure the Minister of State will say that developments are allowed closer to shore in other parts of Europe, but the general pattern is they are being pushed further out to sea. As I said, the document produced by the Crown Estate in Britain used a distance of 60 km as its base assumption, which is roughly ten times further out than the sort of thing being entertained right along our east coast. Therefore, what we are seeking in this sense is a win-win situation. We need offshore wind developments, but we must also protect sensitive coastal environments and the communities, the stakeholders and the people who make a living in those areas. We must also protect the marine biology and biodiversity of those nearshore sites. That is the logic of this amendment. I will be interested to hear what the Minister of State has to say in response.

This amendment effectively seeks to restrict significantly the scope of activities that can be considered for a maritime area consent, MAC, in a specific zone and, in so doing, to control development in the maritime area. It is important to remember a MAC is merely a right to occupy a part of the maritime area, conditional on securing other necessary approvals. It is not a permission to undertake works, development or activities provided for under the Planning Acts or in licensing, and it is not a development control tool.

The proposed amendment would unduly limit the potential of the maritime area to deliver renewable energy and, in so doing, limit the State’s ability to meet our climate action targets.

The planning process is the appropriate place to determine the suitability of development in accordance with the objectives of the NMPF. This goes for wind farms, minerals exploration and installations for the storage of gasses or minerals.

This amendment, it must be said, is singular in its intent but far-reaching in its impact. It treats all parts of the maritime area as one singular, homogenous entity and has little or no regard for local marine geomorphological conditions. The impacts of this amendment on the west coast, in particular, are of great concern given the changes in ocean depth beyond 12 nautical miles in parts. I am not convinced that any consideration has been given to the impact of this proposal on our renewable energy targets.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is carrying out a review of the security of Ireland’s energy supply, which is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050. This review will consider how the Government’s increased ambition in renewable energy and the development of new indigenous clean energy sources will reduce fossil energy use. Can the Deputy assure this House that this proposal will not negatively affect our ambitions in this regard?

On mining and mineral exploration, Chapter 17 of the NMPF points out that future exploration and mining for scheduled minerals in the marine area is not anticipated at this point and that any potential activity in this area will depend on future exploration and mining technologies and national policy on mineral exploration and mining. Indeed, the Government’s draft policy statement on mineral exploration and mining, published in July of this year, proposes that mineral exploration and mining activity should not take place offshore or on the Irish seabed until such time as sufficient data are available to assess adequately the impacts of any such potential mining activity. This is not an immediate concern.

The NMPF also notes the security of energy supply cannot be examined in isolation from sustainability. It also states natural gas storage installations and activities could have potential adverse ecological and environmental impacts, which would need to be identified, analysed and mitigated against as part of the planning and development management stages of marine planning. In short, natural gas storage may be looked at in the round in the future during proper policy development, but we will not curtail options in this Bill.

I acknowledge the concerns raised by the Deputies in this amendment. However, I do not consider that primary legislation should be used to control future development. The legislation provides for a robust planning system, which will assess development in accordance with Government policy and ensure the environment is adequately protected. We use evidence to inform policy, and the policies inform the decision. Development control in primary legislation is simply not appropriate, particularly where it is aimed at frustrating the attainment of our energy security and climate action objectives. I cannot accept this amendment.

The Minister of State and his officials will be familiar with the Marine Institute’s Real Map of Ireland, but I do not know whether the public is that familiar with it. It begs the point. While I realise the Minister of State said that, in the context of the NMPF, there was public consultation, this was all new to those at the public meeting held in my area, the Save Our Seafront meeting. There are still many people who have not been reached regarding significant changes, plans and objectives for the development of the marine area and how these may affect them. We still have a way to go in terms of the level of engagement with the public if they are to understand fully the issues at stake and which we are discussing here. That is not to diss the engagement the officials have had but we have a long way to go yet.

The public needs to know about the Real Map of Ireland and the sheer size of Ireland’s marine area. It is enormous. The size is multiples of that of the land of this country. Therefore, we have a huge resource. That means we have a large area in which to develop offshore wind energy generation. Consequently, I just do not accept the Minister of State’s suggestion that our having a buffer zone involving a required minimum distance from the coast precludes us from developing offshore wind energy generation. I have not heard a convincing response, if any, from the Government or Minister of State as to why, increasingly, the rest of Europe is pushing industrial offshore wind facilities much greater distances out. Judging from the Crown document to which I referred, the central scenario in respect of cost involved a distance of 60 km. In other words, the authors did not see any major difference between 60 km and closer in terms of the cost of development. There is no major cost implication to pushing the industrial wind farms a bit further out so as to have a win–win situation. I refer to harnessing our offshore wind and protecting our coastal environment.

Is this to do with the nature of our shoreline? The Irish seabed drops off quite significantly. It would be useful if the Minister of State put on the record of the House his considerations regarding Deputy Boyd Barrett’s amendment. Much of the time, I find myself going two thirds of the way with Deputy Boyd Barrett. That is probably illustrative of how broad the left spectrum is. I agree with him on some fronts but not on all. With two thirds of the points he makes, and two thirds of the content of his amendment, the Labour Party and I would agree, especially regarding mineral extraction. The Deputy’s view on liquid natural gas is very much ad idem with the Labour Party’s policy, but I have concerns about imposing the kinds of constraints he is seeking to introduce on planning for turbines. It seems to me that even the reference to five turbines or 5 MW is quite random. I am not quite sure what the justification is. When I was watching the debate on the monitor in my office earlier, I heard the Deputy say it is an effort to try to restrict industrial turbine operations, as I believe he described them, but I do not understand that. If we restricted them and accepted the merits of the amendment in the context of the restrictions concerning wind turbines, it would be practically impossible for us to meet our renewable energy targets. We certainly could not support that. It would be useful if the Minister of State could talk us through the nature of the Irish seabed and the kind of infrastructure we need to introduce there if we are to meet our renewable energy targets for wind energy.

My understanding is the bases of the kinds of turbines in question have to be 50 m to 60 m below the surface. The nature of the seabed in the Irish Sea limits us. As I understand it, we do not have the required technology yet to introduce the kinds of floating turbine platforms envisaged elsewhere. Therefore, it would be unwise to restrict ourselves in the way Deputy Boyd Barrett is proposing. Clearly, he has concerns about the impact of some planned projects off the coast of his constituency. It is fair to say there are concerns in my constituency over certain planned projects, but while taking account of some genuine concerns that might be expressed, for example, by those involved in the fishing industry, whose points on turbines I hope can be addressed, we must take a comprehensive and holistic view of renewable energy infrastructure. While I accept and support the points Deputy Boyd Barrett is making on mineral extraction and the infrastructure supporting liquid natural gas, it would be unwise to proceed on the basis he is proposing in the context of wind turbines.

There are serious concerns over mining, extraction and exploration.

We know there are companies out there that want to take advantage of our marine environment. That is why it is key that this Bill puts the protections in place to ensure that cannot happen. Sinn Féin has taken the position that no more fossil fuels should be extracted. We talk about climate change. We have to get away from the use of fossil fuels. That is why we have to be very sure about what we are putting into this Bill. We talk about climate change and protecting the environment. That is central to the Bill. This is really complex and detailed legislation. I respect that and I know that the Minister of State and everyone in the Department has put this together. It is a huge job of work. It is important, however, that we scrutinise the Bill to ensure that there are no loopholes in it and that it cannot be taken advantage of by anyone looking to profit from mineral extraction or mineral mining that would go against what we want to have in the Bill and the protections we want to have in place.

We talk about LNG. As Deputies, we have made our position on that clear. LNG requires storage and infrastructure. People have concerns about fracked gas being imported. We are against the whole concept of fracking and the extraction of gas that way. Then we consider putting in an LNG storage facility, where we would import gas from other countries facing all the consequences that fracking brings. It would not be right or fair on other countries if we were to have one rule for our State and then to abuse another state where fracking takes place and where the people, especially the citizens, face the consequences of it.

When it comes to planning and development and what we are doing with this Bill, we have to be very sure that there are no loopholes and that the necessary protections are in place. Having spoken to other Deputies at committee meetings, I believe this is probably one of the most complicated, detailed Bills that will ever come before the House. That is why we need to read through it and make sure what we are doing is correct.

To address Deputy Boyd Barrett, the technology is not there right now to put wind farms out where the Deputy wants to see them. That is the challenge we have. There is a significant depth drop-off on the east coast, so wind farms can go out only so far. I think the North Sea basin is very different from the Atlantic basin. I heard Deputy Boyd Barrett mention Germany and other countries on the North Sea side.

Floating turbines were mentioned. We are not quite there yet with the technology. That will take some time.

I accept the points raised about mineral exploration. I will read out the Government's draft policy statement on mineral exploration and mining to give a little context in that regard. It states:

There has been no mining and little or no exploration of scheduled minerals in Irish waters to date. Future exploration and mining for scheduled minerals in our marine waters is not anticipated at this point in time. Concerns have been raised regarding the lack of research and data available to inform a comprehensive understanding of the potential impact of mining in the marine space. Discussion at EU level has referenced the need to better understand the effects of deep seabed mining (i.e. mining in areas of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction) on the marine environment, biodiversity and human activities. It has been proposed that in advance of deep seabed mining taking place, it is important to ensure that the risks are fully understood and that the technologies and operational practices are able to demonstrate no serious harm to the environment, in line with the precautionary principle. Given the limited scientific knowledge currently available, it is proposed that mineral exploration and mining activity does not take place offshore or on the Irish seabed until such time as sufficient data is available to adequately assess the impacts of any such potential mining activity.

Deputy Gould mentioned fracked gas. There is a Government policy that deals separately with that. This is a planning Bill.

Deputy Nash asked where the threshold of more than five turbines and a total output of more than 5 MW comes from. It comes from Schedule 10 to the Bill. That is a threshold in the Government's Bill for classes of development specified for the purposes of Chapter 3 of Part XXI, the numbering of which gives you some idea of the complexity of this Bill's cross-referencing with the Planning and Development Act.

The Minister of State raises interesting points, but I return to my original point, which is that there are many people who will be impacted by these things who have no clue what is going on. I consider myself somebody who keeps an eye on things, who has read into things and who knows a bit, and I do not know the answer to a lot of these questions. I do not know why they have floating wind off the coast of Scotland, for example, yet the Minister of State is telling us it is not really practical. Maybe he knows the answer; I do not, and I would like to know. I would like to know why industrial offshore wind is being moved further and further out in the rest of Europe. I want to hear that debated. The people deserve that debate but there has not been a discussion.

What I do know is that corporations have self-selected sites. I repeat: they selected their own sites. We did not plan them. We did not designate them. This was not done under any planning process. They select the sites which are for convenient for them, will be cheap and very profitable for them and will have a big impact on our marine environment and communities. They have selected the sites, so I want protection until this debate is had. Maybe the Minister of State is right and maybe he is not right. I want that discussion about sea depths and the engineering questions and so on.

As I said, I read a lot and I am not convinced that there are not reasons they are pushing this stuff out in other parts of Europe. That discussion has not been had, but the developers are moving ahead. What we are looking for in this amendment is some level of protection.

LNG terminals and fossil fuel extraction should not be happening - that is a no-brainer. There should be no maritime area consents because you cannot do the development unless you get a MAC, if I am right. That is the point about starting at the MAC. If you do not get a MAC, you do not get the development.

I heard the Minister of State clearly. The variable here seems to be sea depths. You cannot compare a proposition in Germany with a proposition in the Irish Sea. That is the variable. Am I right?

That is the answer.

That is an assertion; it is not an answer.

That is the variable. It is a demonstrable fact.

The Minister of State made the point that it is not believed that mineral extraction and mining will happen in the near future until the data are there and until we know more. That is very vague. Maybe I am picking the Minister of State up wrong and he can clarify this for me, and I hope he can, but putting something in the Bill to deal with something that might happen down the road - it may be a decade or years away; we do not know - seems to me very loose and very open. Deputy Boyd Barrett made a point about developers coming in and picking sites. They can do that with anything in planning at the moment because there is nothing there to stop them. To propose that we will be that open in respect of minerals, mineral extraction and mining is not right.

Perhaps the Minister of State could clarify it for me. That is what I took from his last contribution.

I go back to previous points I made. There is a rigorous system in place for a requirement for appropriate assessments and strategic environmental assessments within our planning system. As I said in the statement I made on the policy on mineral exploration, there is nothing scheduled to date. Everything is open to review, but is supported by a rigorous planning system. I can give assurance on that.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 38 to 40, inclusive, and amendment No. 47 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 68, line 29, to delete "prescribed" and substitute "specified".

These are minor technical amendments to ensure consistency in the text of the Bill. Amendments Nos. 38, 40 and 47 replace the word "prescribed" with the word "specified" in relation to fees for MACs and licences to better reflect the interpretations in section 2 of the Bill. The purpose and functions of the provisions are not affected. Amendment No. 39 adds MAC amendment applications to the definition of "relevant applications" for the purposes of specifying fees and is related to amendment No. 40.

What is the difference between "prescribed" and "specified"?

They have different legal meanings.

Would the Minister of State care to elaborate?

The terms "prescribed" and "specified" are used in different contexts. I apologise for not being able to elaborate more.

That was very enlightening.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 69, to delete line 19 and substitute the following:

"(b) MAC applications,

(c) applications under section 86(5), or".

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 75, line 3, to delete "prescribed" and substitute "specified".

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 83, to delete lines 8 to 15 and substitute the following:

"(6) (a) The holder of a MAC to which section 75(1) applies shall, not later than three months before undertaking any development the subject of such permission and which is for the purposes of the maritime usage the subject of the MAC, make an application under section 86(1) to amend the MAC by way of attaching a schedule to the MAC setting out the particulars specified in paragraph (b) for the purposes of this paragraph."

Deputies may recall that when we introduced amendments Nos. 180 and 181 on Committee Stage in relation to sections 96 and 97, it was flagged to the committee that it may be necessary to make a further amendment on Report Stage. This is the flagged amendment and amounts to some minor technical changes which are necessary to ensure efficient operation of these sections. This amendment deletes section 96(6)(a) and inserts a new subsection in its place. The purpose of this amendment is to remove the requirement to make an application to the MARA within six months of the granting of development permission to amend the MAC for the purposes of submitting the rehabilitation schedule. In instances where there may be a ten-year planning permission for significant infrastructure with a long and detailed design phase, it is not practicable to submit a rehabilitation schedule in just six months following the granting of planning permission. It is sufficient that the application to amend the MAC by attaching the rehabilitation schedule is made not later than three months before the commencement of development. This will also cover smaller developments that may well be ready within six months of a grant of permission. This provision in full ensures that the planning authorities, and not the MARA, are properly positioned as the environmental decision maker in relation to maritime development, including rehabilitation, and can require a MAC to be amended to accommodate any environmental mitigation.

We oppose this amendment. Section 96(6)(a) of the Bill, as it stands, provides that within six months of being granted the development permission, a MAC holder must produce a rehabilitation schedule and thereby put a place a plan to restore the area when the work has finished. This amendment, as we read it, will mean that the MAC holder will only have to produce the rehabilitation schedule three months before undertaking development. This could allow for sea hoarding and sea flipping, as happens with land development. A developer could get a MAC and development permission, then do all that is allowed under the MAC but not start the development, which would allow for surveys, etc., that would increase of the value of the site. The developer could then flip it and never even have to look at restoring the area at all. That is our concern with the amendment. I would be interested to hear the Minister of State's response and why the Government has introduced this change to the original Bill.

I was fairly clear in my comment. I do not think what Deputy Boyd Barrett has spoken about is the case. We believe it is sufficient that the application to amend the MAC by attaching a rehabilitation schedule is made not later than three months before commencement. This is to cover smaller developments that may well be ready within six months of the grant of permission. There is no intention here other than to facilitate and support smaller developments, in particular.

Our concern is that this amendment will facilitate the practice I have just outlined. This is a loophole that could potentially be exploited by the big developers. We could get a phenomenon at sea that we see very frequently on land. In the way this amendment is framed, there is a loophole that developers could potentially exploit.

The Deputy referred to flipping a MAC. You cannot flip a MAC, unless perhaps it is a Big Mac. MACs are attached to the individual, so they stick with the individual applicant.

Just to clarify, is the Minister of State stating here, in the Chamber, that the process of flipping a MAC cannot happen under this legislation?

That is correct.

That is on the record.

I am not entirely happy with that.

The time for contributions has passed.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 42, 44, and 49 to 51, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 42:

In page 95, line 33, to delete “damages.” and substitute “damages, but such undertakings shall not be prohibitively expensive.”

The Bill does not treat a maritime area consent, MAC, as being environmental in the same way as a development consent. We are concerned about that. As I said on our earlier amendment, if one does not have a MAC, one cannot do anything. One thing leads on to another. The Government and the officials will say that a MAC only gives a right to occupy. It is, however, also a first step on the road, without which one cannot do anything else that comes afterwards. We are dealing with new legislation and we are in new territory. As one thing can lead onto another, we are not convinced that the assertion that a MAC does not have an environmental impact is necessarily going to be the case. I am not saying that the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, is being disingenuous but we are in new territory. We are setting up a process where we do not quite know how it is going to play out. Therefore, potentially, MACs will have a significant impact and people may wish to challenge the granting of a MAC and take judicial reviews against the granting of a MAC. If they do, they will not get the protection that one would get under the Aarhus Convention for things that are deemed to have an environmental impact, because this Bill does not consider the MAC as having an environmental impact. One would not get those protections and could be screwed, to use a colloquialism, for costs and discouraged from doing it. The Aarhus Convention gives some protection when a person takes a judicial review on the grounds of environmental impact. The amendments we are putting in try to ensure that people are protected against major costs when they seek a judicial review against a decision to grant a maritime area consent, MAC.

Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle please remind me of the amendments we are discussing?

We are discussing amendments Nos. 42, 44 and 49 to 51 , inclusive, together.

Trying to keep up with this is difficult, but it is important. That is the problem: there is a lot to deal with in a very short time.

I particularly want to draw attention to amendment No. 44 and the application for judicial review by a body or organisation the aims or objectives of which relate to the promotion of environmental protection. Such NGOs and so on which have knowledge and expertise in that area should have locus standi or the right to take judicial review and be deemed to have sufficient interest so there would not be barriers to them seeking judicial reviews on maritime area consents. This is a further attempt to ensure that the granting of MAC's does not compromise our marine environment and allows those concerned with its protection to challenge decisions to grant maritime area consents. That is general thrust of this group of amendments.

I may come back in the second round. Deputy Gould may feel free to come in on it.

Deputy Boyd Barrett made the point about the concerns that people have. We are especially concerned about amendment No. 51. It is why Deputies Ó Broin, Boyd Barrett and others are looking to delete lines 15 to 39 on page 118, and to delete lines 1 to 19 on page 119. We believe these lines should be deleted. What are the Minister's thoughts?

This group of amendments seeks to amend the various judicial review procedures set out in this Bill. I state from the outset that I will not be accepting any of these amendments as the provisions have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and I am happy with them as they stand.

I will touch on the substance of these amendments. Amendment No. 44 seeks to insert a provision providing locus standi for certain cases. There are a number of issues with this amendment. As discussed at length on Committee Stage, I do not accept that the MAC is an environmental decision for these purposes and the advice I have supports that position. This amendment seeks to attempt to establish the MAC as an environmental decision by reference to the proposed insertion. It is simply not acceptable.

Notwithstanding that, I have serious concerns with the proposal that a body or organisation could establish itself and pursue environmental objectives for just one month before it could have locus standi in judicial review proceedings. This is a significant deviation from the existing provisions, including the existing provisions of the planning Acts and those proposed in section 133 of this Bill. This provision could unintentionally lead to abuses of the system and would undermine the good work of the existing and longstanding environmental NGOs. There is no justification for this and it is curious that the Deputies have not proposed a similar amendment to section 133 in respect of licences.

Amendments Nos. 42 and 50 seek to limit damages but the text is without precedent, is not defined and would deviate from existing provisions, include the planning Acts. In any event, my advice is that this is not necessary.

Amendment No. 49 attempts to provide a definition that is not necessary. The reference section refers to the preceding section where the definition is provided in subsection (7).

Amendment No. 51 seeks to delete the entirety of section 134. I note this deletion was also proposed on Committee Stage and ruled out of order, albeit that it was also proposed at that stage to delete almost the entirety of the judicial review provisions for licensing. In its current form, it still proposes to remove the environmental cost provision. While I note the justification for this, I have not been advised to remove this section by the Office of the Attorney General and I will oppose.

We will, of course, keep all judicial review provisions under constant review, having regard to emerging requirements, case law and other amendments elsewhere, such as in any future review of the planning Acts, but I will not be changing them here without specific advice from the Attorney General.

This is all about access to justice and the right of concerned parties and particularly NGOs which would have a particular concern about the potential impact of human activity or development in the marine area if consents are given and decisions are made which they think could be detrimental to that part of the marine environment. That access to justice is important. I do not really buy the narrative that we often hear, especially from the developers on land, that the big problem is all of the people who object. This is even though the developers get multiple planning permissions and in many cases they either do bad development or they do not bother developing at all.

I do not buy the narrative that giving people the right to object and to go to court is a problem. It is imperative that people have access to justice in matters that have an impact on their environment, in this case the marine environment.

I do not see the month issue as a problem. It is about facilitating groups of people who may come together in the context of a particular proposed development. Until something is proposed, many people do not know it is coming and may not have organised themselves, but they may have legitimate concerns about it and establish themselves in response to that. I do not have a problem with that and I do not see the concerns the Minister of State suggests. This is about trying to not have the chilling effect of costs potentially being unloaded on people who seek justice, particularly when, most of the time, they will be dealing with big corporations or big commercial interests that have plenty of money, plenty of legal wherewithal and so on. What we are trying to do is ensure they have that right of recourse. As I said, we do not accept the Bill's position on the MAC, or the right to occupy, even if it does not allow for development. We think it could have displacement effects on that particular area and, therefore, have environmental impacts. Therefore, we believe those access to justice provisions and to have no deterrence to that are legitimate and vital requests on our part.

To follow on from Deputy Boyd Barrett, costs should not be a barrier to groups looking for protections for the marine environment and the marine area. At the end of the day, for people who have genuine concerns about the environment, especially the marine, costs are restricting their ability to look for justice, to look for what is right and to look for protection. Some groups could have genuine concerns. We are not talking about serial objectors or people like that; we are talking about people who have genuine concerns about the marine environment having the ability to take a judicial review without being blocked, which is the worry when dealing with big corporations and big money. Local groups, small groups or environmental groups cannot be denied access to justice.

I reiterate that we do not accept this is an environmental decision. We cannot accept what this amendment proposes, namely, that the MAC is an environmental decision. There is also the issue of organisations that might set themselves up just for one month, which, again, we cannot accept. Many environmental organisations have been operating for a long time, for example, the Irish Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Coastwatch, Birdwatch and SWAN. Again, if organisations have concerns on issues around the maritime area or the marine in general, these organisations are there to support them. We cannot accept this.

Does Deputy Boyd Barrett wish to come back in?

What time do we finish?

In that case, we will press the amendments at this stage.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 43 is out of order.

Amendment No. 43 not moved.

I move amendment No. 44:

In page 96, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

Locus Standi in environmental MAC cases and in proceedings to which Part 2 applies

110. For the avoidance of doubt where the applicant for judicial review under this Chapter, or under Part 2, is-

(a) a body or organisation (other than a State authority, a public authority or governmental body or agency) the aims or objectives of which relate to the promotion of environmental protection, and

(b) has, during the period of 1 month preceding the date of the application, pursued those aims or objectives,

it shall have locus standi to pursue the judicial review and be deemed to have sufficient interest.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 74; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Thomas Gould; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin.
Amendment declared lost.

The time permitted for this debate having expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with the order of the Dáil of 30 November: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put and agreed to.
Barr
Roinn