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Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013

Section 23: Duties of public authorities in relation to certain decisions

This section applies to a public authority (other than the Department) with responsibility for authorising applications for certain activities capable of affecting a protected feature of an MCZ or any geological or geomorphological processes on which the conservation of a feature is partially or wholly dependent.  It does not apply where the effect is insignificant, in order to avoid capturing very minor matters.

Subsection (2) requires a public authority to inform the Department if it believes a proposed activity would hinder the achievement of the conservation objectives of an MCZ.

Subsection (3) states that no authorisation may be granted until 28 days have passed since notice was given.  This does not apply, however, where the Department informs the authority that it does not need to wait 28 days or where the authority thinks there is an urgent need to grant the authorisation.

Subsections (5), (6) and (7) impose a duty on an authority not to grant authorisation unless it is satisfied that there is no significant risk that the activity would hinder the achievement of the conservation objectives or if certain conditions in subsection (7) are met.  These conditions are that there is no other way to carry out the act which is less likely to hinder the objectives; the benefit of the act to the public clearly outweighs the risk of environmental damage; and the person seeking authorisation should take measures of equivalent environmental benefit to the damage that would be, or is likely to be, caused.

Subsection (10) requires a public authority to have regard to any advice or guidance given by the Department under section 24.

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