Environmental Policy News

Minister O'Brien Announces Maritime Area Regulatory Authority

Ireland’s Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has announced that the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) will be established on July 17, 2023.

Making the announcement at the Wind Energy Ireland Offshore Wind 2023 Conference at Dublin Royal Convention Centre, the Minister added that Ms. Laura Brien, currently Chief Executive of the Health Insurance Authority, has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer of MARA.

The establishment of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) on July 17, 2023, marks the transition to the new maritime consenting regime and will be a key enabler in respect of Ireland’s ambitions for the Offshore Renewable Energy sector. The new agency will have responsibility for assessing applications for Maritime Area Consents (MACs) which will be required before developers of offshore wind and other projects in the maritime area can make a planning application. It will also be responsible for granting licenses for certain activities in the maritime area.

Commenting on the plans to establish MARA and the selection of a CEO, the Minister stated: “I am delighted to announce that MARA will be established on the July 17, 2023. MARA will be responsible for regulating development and activity in Ireland’s maritime area and comes about as part of the biggest reform of marine governance in Ireland in almost a century. MARA will have in place the process and procedures relating to MAC applications for Offshore Renewable Energy and for marine infrastructure that supports the delivery and deployment of offshore wind projects, such as port development work. This is in line with Government’s decision on Prioritization of Renewable Energy Maritime Plans and Projects as a response to the Energy crisis.”

In relation to the selection of a CEO, the Minister said that filling this key leadership position is a critical step in establishing the new maritime consenting regime: “During this period of great change in how the State manages its maritime space, MARA will have a key role to play. It is important that the CEO provide effective leadership and strategic vision to the organization, and I’m delighted to announce that Laura Brien will be taking on this role. She has extensive experience in the area of regulation across a number of industries, and this will be crucial in leading the new agency.”

Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan followed: “In recent months we have seen the introduction of a robust policy framework for offshore wind, which has given investors confidence, as demonstrated by last week’s excellent result of the first offshore renewable energy auction.

“I welcome today’s announcement regarding the establishment of MARA and commend Minister O’Brien and his officials for the hard work that has gone into establishing this important organization. I also wish to congratulate Laura Brien on her appointment to the role of CEO.

“MARA will play a critical role from its beginnings, and I look forward to our offshore renewable targets being met, and to a clean energy transformation for the health and economic prosperity of our citizens.”

Incoming CEO Ms Laura Brien commented: “I am very pleased to be taking up the role of Chief Executive of MARA and working with the team to build the skills and expertise to deliver on MARA’s mandate. MARA will be a key enabler supporting delivery of projects of strategic importance including offshore renewable energy, ports development, cabling and telecoms projects, and many uses of the maritime area. I look forward to working with the Chairperson, the Board and the broader stakeholder community to achieve MARA’s strategic ambitions in support of sustainable development of our maritime resource.”

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