The Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 establishes a new marine planning system consisting of a new licensing and development management regime from the high water mark to the outer limit of the State’s continental shelf, administered by An Bord Pleanála, the coastal local authorities and the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA).
While MARA is not responsible for granting development permission (this function falls to An Bord Pleanála and the coastal local authorities), it facilitates a streamlined consenting process for developers, and a route for developers to the planning system, by assessing applications for Maritime Area Consents (MACs). Development is subject to a single comprehensive environmental assessment by the relevant planning authority. A MAC is the gateway into the planning system as MACs are required before any planning applications are made to An Bord Pleanála and the coastal local authorities. A MAC may be granted following assessment of the applicant and the proposed project, and only MAC holders can apply for development permission in the maritime area. A MAC is the right to occupy a part of the maritime area, conditional on securing other necessary approvals.
Assessing MAC applications for the maritime area is one of the functions of the new agency MARA.
Other functions include:
- Granting marine licencing for specified activities;
- Compliance and enforcement of MACs, licences and offshore development consents;
- Investigations and prosecutions;
- Administration of the existing Foreshore consent portfolio;
- Fostering and promoting co-operation between regulators of the maritime area.
MARA invites potential MAC applicants to partake in non–statutory pre-application meetings before a formal application is made, in order to minimise delays and ensure that all relevant information is submitted. An application form for such a meeting is available below:
- Pre-Application Consultation Request Form – English
- Pre-Application Consultation Request Form – Irish
Application documents are issued to applicants upon request following the pre-application process. MAC guidance and sample application documents are available for review at the following links:
- General Guidance for completing an application for a MAC
- General Application for a Maritime Area Consent – Sample
- Technical Capability Assessment for a MAC (for Schedule 10 applications)
- Technical Capability Assessment for a MAC (excluding Schedule 10 applications)
- Financial Capability Assessment for a MAC
Guidance on preparing maps for application purposes is available at the link below: