The Social Democrats have accused the Government of attempting to railroad the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) through the Dáil without adequate pre-legislative scrutiny.

Holly Cairns TD, who is the party’s spokesperson for the Marine, said:

“The time allocated for a debate on this topic tomorrow is wholly inadequate to address the myriad of issues involved. This is a blatant attempt by the Government to avoid proper scrutiny of the Bill, which could have wide-ranging implications for the livelihoods of fishermen and our natural marine environment.

“The National Marine Planning Framework is a major Government plan that will shape our coastal communities for decades, encompassing a significant range of matters from fisheries to offshore energy production and archaeological heritage.

“Inshore fishers – and coastal and island communities in West Cork and other areas – are seeking points of clarity and a strengthening of aspects of the plan. The Government should be facilitating this discussion to enable us to develop the best plan possible.

“Last week, the Government were planning to have no debate on the plan – now they are allowing less than hour. Coastal communities and those dependent on the sea for their livelihoods deserve more respect and consideration.

“It’s worth making the point that many of us, including the fishing community, acknowledge the importance of investing in wind energy projects, which forms a major element of the National Marine Planning Framework. However, what we are simply looking for is proper consultation with those working in the fishing industry, as well as environmental groups.”

Cian O’Callaghan TD, who is a member of the Oireachtas Housing, Heritage and Local Government Committee, added:

“The lessons from the Derrybrien wind farm, where the State is paying out fines of up to €15 million as a result of planning legislation being rushed through, should serve as a wake-up call for the Government. We need to get marine planning right and to do this we need proper debate and scrutiny – 50 minutes in the Dáil is entirely insufficient.”

April 28, 2021

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