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Marine Spatial Planning

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Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a new way of looking at how we use the marine area and planning how best to use it into the future.  MSP will try to balance the different demands for using the sea including the need to protect the marine environment.   It's about planning when and where human activities take place at sea.  It’s about ensuring these activities are as efficient and sustainable as possible. Marine spatial planning involves stakeholders in a transparent way in the planning of maritime activities.

The Directive

In 2014 the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted Directive 2014/89/EU  This directive established a framework for MSP and details the main goals (Article 5) and minimum requirements (Article 6).  The Marine Spatial Plan must be in place by March 2021.

Further information on the Directive

What has happened so far?

The Government has chosen the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government as the competent authority to implement MSP in Ireland.  The Marine Institute will support the process by providing the necessary technical and scientific advice.

Following consultation with the public and stakeholders, regulations necessary to transpose the directive into national law have been made.

The regulations establish the legal basis and broad framework for Ireland to implement MSP through the development of a marine spatial plan (or plans) on a 10 year cycle.

Where are we now and what next?

Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Damien English have published (12 December 2017) Towards a Marine Spatial Plan for Ireland – a roadmap for the development of Ireland’s first marine spatial plan.

There will be four broad stages in the development of the plan.

  • The first, of which the Roadmap forms a central part, is the start-up or activation phase in which the Government’s proposed approach to developing MSP is announced and initial contact is made with stakeholders. This will run until end 2017.
  • The main development stage will commence in Q1 2018 and run until end Q3 2019. This will initially involve the analysis and identification of data and information required to provide a robust evidence base to underpin the MSP. It will also include the publication of an evidence and issues overview for public consultation in 2018, which will be the subject of a formal public consultation process. This process will inform the development of a full draft plan for publication in 2019 with a further consultation process running until end 2019.
  • Stage 3 is the finalisation phase in which a final plan will be prepared for submission to Government in 2020 with supporting environmental assessments (strategic environmental assessment under the SEA Directive, appropriate assessment under Birds and Habitats Directives) for approval before forwarding the final plan to the European Commission ahead of the March 2021 deadline set out under the Directive.
  • Stage 4 is implementation and review commencing on publication of the final Marine Spatial Plan.

As set out in the Roadmap document, throughout the process there will be a strong focus on public engagement, including a number of formal public consultation processes and environmental assessments. These will be supplemented with a number of public regional workshops and seminars and interactive web based arrangements will be provided for, including the establishment of a dedicated website

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Further Information