atest press release from Deputy Jennifer Whitmore, issued on Thursday, September 16th 2021…
Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore and Party spokesperson for Climate Action spoke in the Dáil on new maritime legislation that seeks to regulate development on our marine waters.
“Ireland has the largest maritime area in the whole of the EU. A huge benefit to us, and also a huge responsibility. How we manage our marine areas will be key to the success not only of our response to climate change and the biodiversity crisis, it will also be key to the success of development like renewable energy.
“Anyone living in Wicklow looking out across the Irish Sea can see the changes on the horizon: from small developments to large scale offshore renewable energy proposals – our relationship with the sea is changing rapidly. Managing this development requires a generational shift from our historic approach to planning and development which is not currently taking place.
“Off the coast of Wicklow we have a wealth of marine wildlife that inhabit Wicklow’s beautiful coastline like seals and porpoises but we also have huge potential to restore lost habitats like mussel seed farms and other nature based solutions. Restoration and development can also work hand in hand as pilot projects around the world have show. But it takes initiative.
“We also need a substantial amount more of our marine waters under protection. Under the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 member states should collectively legally protect at least 30% of EU land and marine areas. Unfortunately, at present only 2.4% of Irish waters are designated as such (the second lowest in the EU), a shockingly low percentage.
“However, the Government has failed to legislate properly for marine wildlife and its ecosystem. Environmental NGOs have been waiting years for legislation to protect our marine waters through the allocation of Marine Protected Areas. Instead, this week in the Dail the Government prioritised the progression of legislation for the development of our marine water without adequate protections for marine wildlife and biodiversity. We need legislation to help facilitate renewable energy development, but we need robust legislation that also protected wildlife at the same time.
“I’m calling on the Government to put in place interim protections for our marine wildlife and biodiversity until standalone legislation is published.
“I am also calling on the Minister for Climate Action, Eamon Ryan to put in place wildlife protections in the current Bill going through the Dáil to bring it up to standard,” concludes Whitmore.
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