Thursday, 29 April 2021
National Marine Planning Framework: Motion
I am sharing time with Deputy Bríd Smith. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan and I objected at the Business Committee to the original plan of the Government to attempt to push through this motion on the marine planning framework without debate. I am glad we did so. It is clear the Government wants to ram this through in order to silence legitimate concerns and questions by people concerned with our precious marine environment, including groups such as fishermen.
Only a few weeks ago, I raised the issue of private developers who have got hold of the Codling Bank riding roughshod over fishermen and refusing to properly consult them as they do their surveys. They are trying to short-change the fishers in terms of compensation for lost income. They are moving the goalposts and generally refusing to engage. This is a worrying echo of the sort of behaviour seen during the madness of onshore private development that led to the Celtic tiger and the property and financial crash that hit this country. Now it seems there are efforts to replicate that in terms of the offshore by using the critical issue of developing renewable energy essentially as an excuse to hand over large stretches of the marine environment to private companies interested in profiting from that.
Since the Foreshore Act was essentially struck down in 2013 because it did not have a proper level of consultation, the Minister has been, in effect, issuing private companies with the right to grab whatever sites they want offshore, including environmentally sensitive sites such as the Kish Bank and the Codling Bank. This is impacting on fishermen and has the potential to impact very badly on the marine environment and biodiversity in the marine environment. It is worth noting that, according to the official EU body for wind turbines, the average distance for offshore wind in the EU is 43 km. However, huge marine sites 6 km and 7 km off the east coast of Ireland are being given to private companies that will have no obligation to in any way benefit this country and in a way that could be devastating for fishermen, marine biology and biodiversity. It is the wild west once again. Private developers who wrecked onshore development and brought about an economic crash and housing crisis are now being given the licence through this process to rubber stamp the privatisation of the marine environment.