Foreshore Legislation


The foreshore of Ireland is classed as the land and seabed between the high water mark of ordinary or medium tides and the 12-mile limit of the territorial seas: (12 nautical miles equals approximately 22.24 km).

The area covered is 39,000 square kilometres or equivalent to approximately 57% of the landmass of the Republic of Ireland. Over 60% of the population lives within 10km of the coast and this percentage is increasing. As the population continues to grow, additional pressures are placed on the coastal zone.

The foreshore is a unique and important, environmentally sensitive resource which makes a major contribution to the life of the nation, supporting various economic activities and recreational uses.


The Foreshore Act 1933 (as amended) is the primary legislation governing development on the foreshore. The Act requires that a foreshore lease or licence must be obtained from the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government before undertaking any works or placing structures or material on, (or for the occupation of, or removal of material from), State owned foreshore.

Reform of The Foreshore Act 1933

The Foreshore Act 1933 has long been recognised as unfit for purpose. It is currently under reform. A new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill has been drafted. The General Scheme of the Bill was published in 2019 and is available here.


Foreshore leases are granted under The Acts for the erection of long term structures (piers, marinas, bridges, offshore wind farms, etc). Essentially a Foreshore Lease is similar to planning permission.

Foreshore licences are granted for other works (e.g. laying of pipes and cables) and purposes (e.g. aquaculture). Foreshore licences are also granted, generally for four years, for initial site investigation for offshore renewable energy. During this time the applicant may carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to determine site suitability. Following site investigation, the applicant may then apply to the Minister for a foreshore lease to develop and operate the project.

Leases and licences are granted subject to the payment of fees. The usual duration of a foreshore lease is 35 years.