Ireland's maritime area extends to almost seven times our land mass, one of the largest sea to land ratios of any EU State. This area includes our internal waters, territorial seas, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and our continental shelf. It covers nearly 500,000 km2 and stretches out to 200 nautical miles in some places. This ocean space is a vast national asset.
Developing natural resources such as wind, the ocean and the resources below the seabed can have many benefits for Ireland. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment manages the granting of consents for activities which develop these natural resources.
Traditionally, any development of our natural resources has been led by developers and regulated by certain Departments and agencies. However, increased development demands and the challenge of achieving the targets set out in Ireland's Climate Action Plan, which include offshore renewable generation of electricity from wind, mean that we need a new approach to ensure the development of Ireland's marine resources is sustainable.
This must be done in a planned way, to protect our rich biodiversity and manage facilities for citizens. This approach requires a robust planning and licensing framework, underpinned by legislation and regulation and a scientific approach to setting environmental targets and thresholds for activity.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is responsible for implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) on behalf of the Government, with input from other Departments and Agencies. They have launched two consultations on these frameworks which aim to deliver a sustainable, planned and holistic approach to regulating Ireland's marine resources.