A DATE has been announced for the judicial review of the kelp harvesting licence for Bantry Bay.
The green light was given to Kerry firm Bioatlantis Ltd to begin mechanically harvesting kelp in the Bay, at the end of 2017.
The firm was granted a licence to harvest 1,822 acres – or 753 hectares – on a trial basis.
But local campaigning group, Bantry Bay Protect Our Native Kelp Forest, said at the time that they were disappointed their concerns hadn’t been heard.
Deirdre Fitzgerald said: ‘Despite over 12,000 people signing a petition, and the fact that the issue was raised by cross-party representatives at the Dáil querying the licence and how it came to be, our government approved the largest scale experimental mechanical kelp harvest licence ever issued in Irish or British waters. It is truly shocking. We have many protected species resident and transient in the proposed direct kelp harvest areas.’
However, BioAtlantis founder and chief executive John T O’Sullivan insisted the licence was granted in accordance with Irish and EU law.
‘An EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was not required for this project, as kelp harvesting does not fall under project categories listed under the EIA directive. This was confirmed by the EU Commission on September 14th,’ he told The Southern Star in December 2017.
At the time, Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD (FF) said she was very disappointed that Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English TD, chose to go ahead with the licence.
And TD Michael Collins called on the Minister to think again and suspend the licence until the people of the area had a chance to ‘have their say’.
This week it was announced that a judicial review will now take place, beginning on Tuesday May 14th in the High Court in Dublin, and it is expected to last for six days.