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PROPERTY - What is a Foreshore Licence and when would I need it?

As the entire foreshore in Ireland, effectively the land between the sea and the mainland itself, is owned by the state, it is a requirement that anyone proposing works affecting this area must apply first to the state for a foreshore licence before any such works commence. All these applications are made under the Foreshore Act 1933 as amended.


A foreshore licence is required by any person proposing to place any material or to place or erect any articles, things, structures, or works in or on foreshore or to get and take any minerals in foreshore or to use or occupy foreshore for any purpose unless exempt under other legislation or due to existing rights. The scope of activity which requires a licence is therefore very broad.

As there has been an upsurge in oil exploration activity and installation of wind turbines offshore in recent years, it is no surprise that applications for various types of foreshore licences have increased dramatically.


In considering an application for a foreshore licence, the Minister will also consider whether it is in the public interest to grant a licence.


The following are examples of developments and activities that require a foreshore licence under the Foreshore Act prior to carrying out any developments or activities on the Foreshore:

  • Cable installation

  • Dredging works

  • Coastal protection works.

  • Site investigations – geotechnical

  • Marine environmental surveys for wind turbines

  • Discharge/Outfall pipe

  • Seaweed harvesting

  • One day events e.g., beach horse racing

  • Commercial filming.

The list is not exhaustive as a licence is required to use or occupy foreshore for any purpose unless exempt under other legislation or due to existing rights. It should be noted that the Department has a broad remit in relation to the licensing and leasing of activities and developments under the Foreshore Act, as amended.


A foreshore lease may be required under section 2 of the Foreshore Act for a development that requires exclusive occupation of the foreshore e.g., Installation of rock armour to prevent erosion.

Developments requiring a lease would include for example: jetties, bridges, piers, marinas and reclamation of any foreshore.


If any party is unsure whether or not a foreshore consent is required for a proposed activity or developments, he/she is advised to submit a pre-Application form to the Foreshore Unit, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

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