Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP) Proposal for Offshore Renewable Energy signals Ireland’s first step into the systemic, plan-led development of our huge off-shore wind potential. DMAPs will determine the broad area where offshore renewable energy projects can be developed, and will act as a management plan for a specific area of our marine waters, which can be used to develop multi-activity area plans to promote the use of specific activities, including offshore renewables.

This first Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP) Proposal will be located off the South Coast of Ireland, and puts forward an initial ‘proposed’ geographical area within which future offshore renewable energy development may take place. This area will be refined through a process of public engagement and consultation, expert environmental impact assessments and other expert analysis of the maritime areas, to assess its suitability for offshore renewable energy development. Following a period of public engagement, a ‘Draft DMAP’ (which is anticipated to encompass a significantly smaller footprint than the initially outlined in proposal) will be published. Following this, a further statutory public consultation will take place, before the Draft DMAP is presented to the Minister for Housing and both houses of the Oireachtas for approval.

The DMAP establishment process also includes a statutory requirement to provide opportunities for comprehensive engagement with interested citizens and local communities. To facilitate this, the publication of any DMAP Proposal must be accompanied by a Public Participation Statement outlining opportunities for the involvement of interested persons in the DMAP establishment process.

Through providing multiple opportunities for public engagement, the establishment of DMAPs will also help to ensure that offshore renewable energy developments take place in the right locations and deliver the maximum benefit to local communities. Opportunities for public engagement in the process to establish DMAPs will also help to ensure that future development of offshore renewable energy takes place with consideration for other existing marine activities and usages, including fishing and seafood production, which is a vital source of income and employment for many coastal communities. Where possible, it will also provide for the co-existence of offshore renewable energy with other marine activities and usages.