Planners welcome the passing of the National Marine Planning Framework by Dáil Eireann but caution about resource availability within Planning Authorities
Dublin, 14th May 2021: Commenting on the passing of the legislation for the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) by Dáil Eireann Dr Conor Norton, President of the Irish Planning Institute, described the framework as “a game changer for our maritime area.”
“The National Marine Planning Framework represents a comprehensive and integrated system for planning, protecting and managing Ireland’s extensive marine area, our coastal areas, ports and harbours. It provides the framework for the sustainable development of the many and growing range of activities and demands on the marine area, including offshore energy, marine transport, fisheries, tourism and aquaculture.”
Dr Norton added. “The NMPF provides a shared vision and strategy on which decisions on marine developments and activities can be more holistically and objectively assessed and reviewed. The passing of the legislation for the NMPF is a major milestone for planning in Ireland. It is the fruit of a broad and collaborative effort involving government, the various marine sectors and interests, professional bodies, scientists and communities. For the first time, we will benefit from an open and accessible planning system for our marine area, which is integrated with our established planning system.”
Marine planning is a process that brings together multiple users of the ocean to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably. The NMPF is the first ever plan for Ireland’s maritime area, setting out a 20-year vision of how we use, protect and enjoy our seas. Ireland’s maritime area is seven times the size of its landmass.
Planners have long argued that a cohesive and integrated marine and terrestrial spatial planning system is imperative for an island such as Ireland. The sustainable development of competing uses in the maritime environment will require balanced consideration in terms of the associated economic, environmental and social consequences. As Ireland seeks to reach its renewable energy targets use of significant offshore resources will be a major part of this.
Nonetheless, the Irish Planning Institute cautions that the National Marine Planning Framework will place significant resource demand on already over-stretched coastal Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála. The Irish Planning Institute is currently undertaking a major capacity study to analyse the capacity of professional planners across the planning system from planning consultancies to planning authorities and Regional Assemblies to meet the obligations of the National Planning Framework and the National Marine Planning Framework.
“Education and Continued Professional Development for Professional Planners will also be crucial to the successful implementation of this new Framework. The Institute will actively collaborate with Planning Schools and Employers of Planners to ensure its Members are equipped to deliver on the objectives of The National Marine Planning Framework,” Dr Norton concluded.