TWO years on from when plans for a controversial mussel farm in Kinsale harbour were first mooted, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that a public consultation in respect of the application is being re-run in the coming weeks.
A Department spokesperson said that all valid submissions received during the previous public consultation period will be considered as part of the licensing process.
Sen Tim Lombard had raised the issue of statutory timeframes relating to aquaculture licences in the Seanad recently and said there has been no public information since to the people of Kinsale who made submissions on the plan in March 2019.
The Cork senator said a ‘void of information’ now exists with no updates being provided.
Waterford-based Woodstown Bay Shellfish Ltd applied to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the licence to operate the mussel farm back in 2018 in an area near the Dock beach and James Fort.
In its application the company said that a previous trial licence on the site was successful. ‘If it was seeking planning permission we would at least have had a timeline of sorts from the local authority and then there is an opportunity to take it to An Bord Pleanála but with this aqua licence it’s a void of information for the community there,’ Sen Lombard told The Southern Star.
‘We have no idea in Kinsale what has been looked for regarding this licence and we have no idea whether studies have been looked for or about the timeframes regarding such studies.’
Sen Lombard added that the need for the Department to update and inform residents who have submissions is very much apparent.
‘It is nearly two and half years since the application was made with no understanding of when it is going to be complete or the issues pertaining to it. This would not happen under any other planning process, so we need clarity now.
‘The people of Kinsale need to have updates and know where this application is going and the responsibility lies with the Department.’
Speaking in the Seanad, Minister Hackett said that it is a ‘complex process’ and that the average time for processing a fully-complete aquaculture licence application varies because it depends on several aspects such as location, species and potential visual impact among others.
Minister Hackett could not comment on the Kinsale application but encouraged Sen Lombard to engage further with her Department on the issue.
Kinsale Yacht Club was just one of a number of groups who lodged an objection to the farm, citing that there was ‘little or no meaningful information’ in the application about how the mussel beds are to be created.