Dáil Éireann - Volume 674 - 11 February, 2009

Written Answers. - Foreshore Licences.

Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the guidelines being used to review and decide on applications for offshore energy licences; if these guidelines are adequate to consider the complex nature of the offshore energy operations; and if a group is investigating the improvement of the review procedure and guidelines in respect of applications for offshore energy licences. [5139/09]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: The construction of an offshore electricity generating station on the foreshore is governed by the Foreshore Acts 1933 to 2005. When considering applications under the Foreshore Acts, including offshore energy projects, the role of my Department is to ensure the protection of the environment and the sustainability of developments on the foreshore. Applications for offshore electricity generating stations are subject to Environmental Impact Assessment and the views are sought from in excess of 100 consultees, both statutory and non statutory.

Applications are subject to a two month public consultation phase, advertised both locally and nationally. The application is assessed within the Department and by the Marine Licence Vetting Committee, which comprises of a number of professionals, suitably qualified to assess the application. When it has been determined that all the issues in the consultation process have [607] been properly addressed, the application is sent to the Minister for a decision as to whether the lease should be granted.

A consolidation and streamlining of the Foreshore Acts has been under consideration for some time. This is intended to provide a modern, effective and integrated legal framework for the management of the State’s foreshore estate in the future. Preparation of these proposals will take account, among other things, of the EU Public Participation Directive, the principles in the EU Recommendation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management, the outcome of the EU Maritime Green Paper, the EU Marine Strategy Directive and the EU Roadmap on Maritime Spatial Planning.

The Government decided on 2 October 2007 that responsibility for certain foreshore licensing functions under the Foreshore Act 1933 including in respect of all energy related developments would transfer to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. My Department is currently putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the efficient and effective transfer of the appropriate legislation and associated functions.

In the interest of efficiency and effectiveness it is considered appropriate that the review of the Foreshore Acts should await the completion of the transfer of the relevant elements of the Foreshore functions to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

My Department will continue to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the context of progressing the various elements required to develop the appropriate coastal zone legislative and management framework. In the meantime legislation will be brought forward very shortly to give effect to the transfer of the relevant functions to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.