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Ireland’s Offshore Renewable Consenting Regime Moves a Step Closer to Implementation

  • Ireland
  • Energy and infrastructure

20-01-2022

Following the recent publication of the Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 (the “MAP Act”), and in anticipation of the establishment of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (“MARA”) in 2023, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, has commenced a short consultation for Phase One Relevant Projects seeking Maritime Area Consent (MAC) (found here).

One of the main features of the MAP Act is the creation of a new State consent, the MAC, as a first step in new planning process for projects that satisfy the definition of “relevant maritime usage” under the MAP Act. Following receipt of a MAC (expected by Q3 2022 for Relevant Projects), projects will be eligible to apply for planning permission, directly from An Bord Pleanála and to further engage in full statutory consultation and environmental assessment processes. Phase Two projects will be processed by MARA.

The completion of this consultation will enable the MAC application process and criteria to be finalised with the MAC application window expected to open to Relevant Projects in April 2022 for a proposed duration of two months to potentially enable the opening of ORESS1 in Q4 2022. While the feedback received from this consultation will inform the Department’s finalisation of the MAC assessment process for the Relevant Projects, all interested parties in the offshore renewable sector should pay close attention to the outcome of this process as it is expected that the consenting processes and guidance developed for Relevant Projects will be transferred to the MARA as the basis for future rounds of consenting, it is likely that modifications to the Relevant Projects regime will be made for Phase Two and beyond. It is expected that following the consultation process additional clarity will be available for Relevant Projects on:

  • the assessment methodology that may apply to a MAC application;
  • ‘fit and proper persons’ (Financial and Technical viability assessments) outlined in Schedule 2 of the MAP Act including Corporate experience in delivering an offshore wind farm, a Resource Plan and financing arrangements;
  • what must be demonstrated to show consistency with offshore energy policy;
  •  what is required by way of stakeholder engagement and public interest;
  •  proposed potential development and operational stage financial levy;
  •  re-assessment of MAC’s; and
  •  duration of MAC’s 

For further information please contact

Mark Varian, Partner, Head of Energy: MarkVarian@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Stephen Barry, Partner, Dispute Resolution & Litigation: StephenBarry@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Phelim McGeady, Associate, Energy & Projects: PhelimMcGeady@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Michael Twomey, Associate, Dispute Resolution & Litigation: MichaelTwomey@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Chloe Prendergast, Solicitor, Dispute Resolution & Litigation: ChloePrendergast@eversheds-sutherland.ie