The draft National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) was launched by my Department on 12 November 2019. The draft NMPF is Ireland’s first comprehensive marine spatial plan document and outlines the clear structure and direction proposed for the development, conservation and enjoyment of our maritime area. This important new text will, when finalised, stand as the marine equivalent of the terrestrial National Planning Framework and will become the key decision-making tool for regulatory authorities and policy makers into the future. The draft NMPF, as well as other associated reports, are available for viewing on my Department's website via the following link: www.marineplan.gov.ie.
My Department is now finalising the draft NMPF based on the evaluation of public consultation submissions received. The final NMPF will be prepared for submission to Government and presentation to the Houses of the Oireachtas before the end of the year. The NMPF will then be submitted to the European Commission by end-March 2021 in line with the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive
Under Part V of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018, all marine plans, including those related to floating regasification storage units typically used for liquefied natural gas transfer, are obliged to comply with the requirements and meet the the objectives of the NMPF on the date the NMPF is approved and adopted by the Oireachtas.
Specifically, all marine plans are obliged to analyse and organise activities in the maritime area for the purpose of achieving ecological, economic and social priorities. They are also required to establish a national strategy for Government in relation to the strategic planning and sustainable development in the maritime area, utilising an ecosystem based approach, which is required for the purpose of supporting proper planning and sustainable development in the maritime area. Furthermore, the plan must encourage the colocation of relevant activities and developments in the maritime area.
The Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will coalesce the requirements made in the Planning and Development Amendment Act (Amended) 2018 to further support the final NMPF.
It is my understanding that the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is currently reviewing policy relating to LNG and as this work is pending, it is not included in the current iteration of the NMPF; however, this will be kept under review by my Department and included in subsequent iterations of the NMPF when developed. The regulation of LNG policy, including floating regasification storage units, will remain a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Communications and Climate.