The Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill has three main aims:
- to align the foreshore consent system with the planning system;
- to provide for a single Environmental Impact Assessment for projects; and
- to provide a coherent mechanism to facilitate and manage development in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf.
The Bill will provide that decisions on development consent for projects in the maritime area (comprising the foreshore, EEZ and continental shelf) should be made either by local authorities or An Bord Pleanála, depending on the location, size and scale of the development, and on whether EIA is required. My future role, as Minister, will be limited to managing the property aspects of developments on behalf of the State and I will have no role in the environmental assessment of projects. It is intended that Local Authorities will, in future, regulate routine activities such as beach horse racing without the need for foreshore consent. The opportunity is also being taken to update other aspects of the 1933 Foreshore Act including in relation to enforcement and emergency works provisions.
Considerable work has been undertaken to advance the drafting of the Bill, including through engagement with the Marine Coordination Group and a number of workshops and bilateral meetings with relevant policy Departments and the Office of the Attorney General throughout 2017 and 2018. In addition, a high level Marine Legislation Steering Group was established in 2018 to facilitate the development of marine legislation with cross-Departmental impacts.
Legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the draft text, received in November 2018, raised a number of complex matters currently being considered by the Marine Legislation Steering Group. Following the conclusion of this review, it is intended to revert to Government with options to progress the reform of marine consenting.