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The Foreshore Act 1933, as amended, requires that a lease or licence must be obtained from the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government for the carrying out of works or placing structures or material on, or for the occupation of or removal of material from, State-owned foreshore, which represents the greater part of the foreshore.  Construction of permanent structures on privately owned foreshore also required the prior permission of the Minister under the Foreshore Act.  (All the foreshore of Ireland is presumed State-owned unless valid alternative title is provided).

Foreshore is State land within the meaning of the State Property Act 1954 and as such ownership is vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Foreshore Act 1933 has been amended on a number of occasions as follows:

  • Foreshore Act 1933 (No. 12 of 1933)
  • European Community (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1989 (S.I. No. 349 of 1989);
  • European Community (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I. No. 93 of 1999);
  • Foreshore (Amendment) Act, 1992 (No. 17 of 1992);
  • Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997 (No. 23 of 1997) (Section 67);
  • Fisheries and Foreshore (Amendment) Act 1998 (No. 54 of 1998) (Section 5);
  • European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 351 of 1998);
  • Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 2003 (Part 5);
  • Maritime Safety Act 2005 (No. 11 of 2005) (Part 6);
  • Foreshore and Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Act 2009 (No. 39 of 2009);
  • European Communities (Foreshore) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 404 of 2009);
  • European Communities (Public Participation) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 352 of 2010);
  • Foreshore (Amendment) Act 2011 (No. 11 of 2011);
  • European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477 of 2011);
  • European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Foreshore) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 433 of 2012).
  • European Union (Access to Review of Decisions for Certain Bodies or Organisations Promoting Environmental Protection) Regulations 2014 (S. I. No. 352 of 2014)
  • European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment) (Foreshore) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 544 of 2014).

The link below permits access to a consolidated version of the Foreshore Act 1933 produced by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in accordance with its statutory function to undertake revision and consolidation of Irish law.

Consolidated version of the Foreshore Act 1933 produced by the Law Reform Commission (LRC)



A disclaimer notice concerning the legal status of the document appears on the title page.  Errors or omissions should be reported to the LRC.

Future Developments

In July 2013 the Government approved the drafting of the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill.  The 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, such as oil and gas projects and offshore renewable energy.

The Bill will define a maritime area to encompass the foreshore, the EEZ and the continental shelf. It will provide that decisions on development consent for projects in the maritime area 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.  The future role of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government will be limited to managing the property aspects of developments on behalf of the State and he will have no role in the environmental assessment of projects.

Following Government approval for drafting of the Bill the General Scheme was published in October 2013. The Bill is currently at drafting stage.


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