Overview of MSP related maritime uses

Current main uses:

Aquaculture Offshore renewable energy
Cables and pipelines Ports
Coastal protection Scientific research
Fisheries Shipping
Military Tourism and leisure
Nature conservation Underwater cultural heritage
Nature conservation Others: Energy – Petroleum, Natural Gas Storage, Climate Change, Air Quality, Marine Litter, Water Quality

Which marine spatial plans exist?

Legal framework

The EU MSP Directive was originally transposed into national legislation by way of regulations made in 2016 (SI 352 of 2016). Since the regulations were made under the European Communities Act 1972, they were strictly limited to measures required to transpose the Directive.

In October 2018, the regulations were repealed and replaced by Part5 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act2018. Part 5 re-transposes the Directive in primary legislation and contains a number of measures that are additional to those required by the directive, including:

  • Adoption of the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) by both Houses of the Oireachtas
  • Review and replacement of the NMPF every six years
  • Obligation for marine regulatory bodies to secure the objectives of the NMPF when making policies, plans or granting consents
  • Enforcement powers for the Minister if the foregoing obligations are not being fulfilled

The Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act provides the legal underpinning to a new marine planning system in Ireland. This will balance marine activities in Irelands seas, for example harnessing our huge offshore wind potential with protecting our rich and unique marine environment.

The Act, signed into law in December 2021, it provides a completely new regime for marine forward planning, decision making, consents and enforcement for the entire maritime area. It is underpinned by the National Marine Planning Framework and is a key enabler of Ireland’s decarbonisation goals.


Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

Tom Woolley – Marine Planning Advisor

Last updated: July 2022
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