The Government has said that the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) will be established on July 17.

The announcement was made by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O'Brien, who also confirmed Laura Brien has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the new body.

Ms Brien is currently the CEO of the Health Insurance Authority.

The agency will be responsible for assessing applications for Maritime Area Consents (MACs) – permits required before offshore wind developers and those behind other projects in the maritime area can make a planning application.

It will also be responsible for granting licences for certain activities in the maritime area.

"I am very pleased to be taking up the role of Chief Executive of MARA and working with the team to build the skills and expertise to deliver on MARA’s mandate," said Ms O’Brien.

"MARA will be a key enabler supporting delivery of projects of strategic importance including offshore renewable energy, ports development, cabling and telecoms projects, and many uses of the maritime area."

The development was welcomed by both Minister O’Brien and the Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan.

"In recent months we have seen the introduction of a robust policy framework for offshore wind, which has given investors confidence, as demonstrated by last week’s excellent result of the first offshore renewable energy auction," he said.

"MARA will play a critical role from its beginnings and I look forward to our offshore renewable targets being met, and to a clean energy transformation for the health and economic prosperity of our citizens."

Ms Brien has spent two and a half decades in the area of regulation.

She is a former Director of the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and was previously also a senior economic advisor at telecoms regulator Comreg.

Earlier in her career she also advised regulators, utilities and governments in the energy sector around the world.

Last week the results of the State's first offshore wind energy auction were announced, with four projects winning over 3GW of capacity at an average cost of €86.05 per mega watt hour.

SSE was among two developers that failed to win out in the auction.

Today it said that while it was disappointed with the auction result, its Arklow Bank Wind Park II is a hugely important project in its offshore pipeline and it remains committed to its delivery.

Speaking at the Wind Energy Ireland Offshore Conference, Maria Ryan, Director of Offshore Development of SSE Renewables said the company is now taking time to assess the outcome of this result and the options available to it to secure a route to market.

She said SSE believes that Arklow Bank has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland's climate action targets, to Ireland’s homegrown energy security and to the national and regional economy.

She added that the company will continue to progress the Arklow Bank project and work towards the preparation of a planning application which it will submit later this year.

"With this in mind, setting the planning system up for success will be essential," she said.

"Ensuring sufficient resources are in place across planning and consenting to support projects to go through the process, in a fair and thorough manner, but at pace."

She also called for stepping-stone targets to set a path out to the country's 2050 renewables target of 37GW.