The Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
The Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (any subsequent mention
of the ‘Marine Act’ refers to the Marine Act (Northern Ireland)
2013) gained Royal Assent on 17 September 2013 and came into
operation the following day. The implementation of the Marine Act
will assist Northern Ireland in contributing to the overall aim of
having clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse
oceans and seas.
The Marine Act sets out a new framework for Northern Ireland’s
seas based on: a system of marine planning that will balance
conservation, energy and resource needs; improved management for
marine nature conservation and the streamlining of marine licensing
for some electricity projects.
The Marine Act applies to the Northern Ireland inshore region
comprising of the territorial sea out to twelve nautical miles.
This area includes all the tidal rivers and sea loughs
(including Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough).
The main provisions of the Act are outlined below:
The Marine Act enables the Department of the Environment (DOE)
to prepare a marine plan for the inshore region. A marine
plan will bring together information and policies on the multiple
uses of the marine area, together with spatial and temporal data
for the water column and the sea bed, using maps where appropriate.
As a strategic tool it will allow decisions to be made about
the best use of the marine area, in order to maximise compatibility
of activities and achieve sustainable development.
Go to the Northern
Ireland Marine Plan page.
Part 3 of the Marine Act enables the Department to
designate areas as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ).
These MCZs will be designated for the conservation of marine
species and habitats, taking into account any economic, cultural or
social consequences of doing so. Stakeholder engagement is an
essential part of the designation process and the Department is
required to publish guidance detailing the methodology for
selection and designation of these sites.
The Act also allows the Department to make byelaws to protect
MCZs, subject to consultation and publication procedures.
See Part 3 of the Marine
Act (Northern Ireland) for further detail on the designation of
Part 4 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 introduced a
new system of marine licensing which extended to Northern
The 2009 Act allowed for the use of ‘special procedures’ in
respect of certain electricity works in parts of the UK. The
Marine Act allows for the extension of these arrangements to
These special procedures will apply in situations where both a
marine licence (from the Department of Environment) and a
generating consent (from Department of Enterprise Trade and
Investment) are required, and will allow for parallel consideration
of applications for both types of consent.
Go to the DOE Marine
The following documents are available to download as pdf
Download the Marine
Act (Northern Ireland) 2013(264kb)
Explanatory Notes for Marine Act (Northern Ireland)