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New Maritme Area Consent

New Maritme Area Consent

Date: 20 Jan 2022

Launch of public consultation on consent regime for offshore renewables

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, today launched a consultation on important aspects of the new Maritime Area Consent (MAC) State consent regime for offshore renewable energy (ORE).

The Maritime Area Consent (MAC) will be a first step in a new and streamlined planning process. Developers who have been assessed for, and are subsequently awarded, a Maritime Area Consent (MAC) can then proceed to apply for development permission (planning permission), where they will undergo environmental assessment.

It follows the enactment of the Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act on 23 December 2021. The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act provides the legal underpinning for a completely new marine planning system. This planning system forms a balance, between harnessing Ireland’s huge offshore wind potential and protecting our rich and unique marine environment.

The Maritime Area Consent (MAC) regime will assess the viability of proposed offshore renewable energy developers several key areas, including in respect of their financial and technical competency, in advance of developers proceeding to environmental studies.

Speaking on the consultation, Minister Ryan said: 

"The Maritime Area Planning Act is a transformational piece of legislation. It provides regulatory certainty and the legislative underpinning for Ireland to embrace its abundant offshore potential. This will ensure that only the most viable offshore projects will have the opportunity to apply for development permission from An Bord Plean├íla. 

The grant of the first Maritime Area Consents this year will represent a significant milestone in realising our ambitious climate targets of 5GW (Giga Watt) of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030 and a long-term plan to take advantage of a potential of at least 30GW of floating wind thereafter

This consultation on the Maritime Area Consent (MAC) regime presents the proposed model for the assessment of Ireland’s first offshore renewable energy projects. It also contains crucial information regarding how the new Maritime Area Consent (MAC) regime will operate. Feedback received will assist the final Maritime Area Consent (MAC) assessment regime. The first Maritime Area Consents (MACs) are expected to be issued in the second half of this year (2022).

These offshore energy projects portray Ireland’s ambitious climate and energy targets. The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2021 aims to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030, including an increased target to achieve up to 5GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030. With Ireland advantageous access to the Atlantic Ocean landmass, we have great potential for offshore energy projects. 

The consultation will remain open for a period of four weeks. It will close on 16th February 2022. The consultation documents and further information can be accessed HERE.