Thursday, 18 June 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
31. Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the climate change and energy security committee producing a Bill to facilitate off shore energy projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24166/09]
41. Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the proposals in respect of offshore wind planning published by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24083/09]
I very much welcome the work carried out by the Climate Change and Energy Security Committee in producing a draft Bill to modernise the planning regime for offshore energy projects. The Bill proposed by the Committee is providing useful input into an ongoing review of the offshore planning system. The Government has agreed that the majority of the foreshore functions are to be transferred from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, where they are to be integrated into the onshore planning processes. This will provide greater clarity and certainty for developers. While this is a somewhat different route than that proposed by the Committee, a ‘fit for purpose’ regime for renewables is very much the stated outcome desired by the Committee in its own proposals.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has signalled his intention to modernise the foreshore consent process, and the legislation underpinning it, aimed at providing an accelerated timeline for the grant of leases/licences in order, inter alia, to enable the Government’s renewable energy target of 40% by 2020 to be achieved.
In that context, an overall Marine Spatial Strategy will be developed, which will be facilitated by the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Irish waters for energy development that the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is currently initiating through the Ocean Energy Development Unit of Sustainable Energy Ireland, in conjunction with the Marine Institute.
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