By Brian Moore
THE boss of the company licensed to mechanically harvest kelp in Bantry harbour amid massive local opposition met with local councillors this week.
A delegation of local councillors met with John T O’Sullivan, chief executive of BioAtlantis, to voice their concerns and opposition to the project which will see 1,800 acres of kelp harvested on an industrial scale not seen before in Irish or UK waters.
The area of kelp forest covered by the licence awarded to Kerry-based company BioAtlantis, stretches from the waters off Adrigole harbour, along the east side of Bere Island and across to the Sheep’s Head.
Locals are concerned about the impact this will have on the area’s ecosystem.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said: ‘We were given a presentation by Mr O’Sullivan but he told us nothing we didn’t know already. The fact remains that the whole planning process was flawed. There was no public consultation, no environmental report and there was no mention of mechanical harvesting in the original planning notice. The licence needs to be suspended until we get all the information and a proper environmental report is published and made available to the communities around Bantry Bay.’
While Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) welcomed the meeting with Mr O’Sullivan, he said he felt that more communication between BioAtlantis and the concerned local groups now needs to take place.
‘More communications between BioAtlantis needs to take place and Mr O’Sullivan has agreed to meet with members of the Bantry Bay Protect Our Native Kelp Forest group,’ Cllr Hayes said.
‘However, until more information and data is made available on the possible damage to the ecosystems in the Bay, the licence must be suspended.’
Earlier in the week, over 200 people attended the second public meeting of the Bantry Bay Protect Our Native Kelp Forest group at the Westlodge Hotel.
There were told by organiser Tomás O’Sullivan that communities all over Cork, and the country, need to be concerned about the plan.
Mr O’Sullivan said they had now formed groups who were looking at the legal, political, and direct action options available to them as part of their campaign to get the licence suspended.
A steering committee is also being formed and a series of information events are planned to take place at Castletownbere, Bantry and Skibbereen markets over the coming weeks.
‘We need to widen the campaign to stop this mechanical harvesting of the bay from going ahead. This is much more than a local Bantry Bay concern. The bay is going to be used as a test bed, coastal communities across the country, locals who have hand-harvested seaweed sustainably for generations, should all be concerned at what is happening in Bantry Bay,’ he said.