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LETTER: May be grounds to terminate seaweed harvesting licence

Saturday, 24th February, 2018 5:00pm
LETTER: May be grounds to  terminate seaweed  harvesting licence

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SIR – Without an Environmental Impact Statement (EIA), Providence Resources had been granted a Foreshore Licence to do exploratory drilling for oil 6km off Dalkey, Killiney Bay area, in September 2012. In February 2013, Provident Resources voluntarily surrendered their Foreshore Licence to the Department  of Environment, Communications and Local Government. 

Their reason for doing this was ‘a transposition error in Ireland’s interpretation of EIA directive.’ Amidst the growing anger and outrage and calls by Dalkey residents for a public inquiry into the granting of the licence, An Taisce had sought a Judicial Review claiming that the government  had ‘wrongly concluded ‘ that an EIA was not required to be carried out prior to the awarding of the Foreshore Licence. 

If Minister Damien English has also ‘wrongly concluded’ that there was no need for an EIA before granting of the Foreshore Licence to Bioatlantis to mechanically harvest seaweed in 1,823 acres of iconic Bantry Bay, then there are grounds to terminate this licence, which he is allowed do in the ‘public interest.’

The stakeholders in our community – fishermen, tourism, heritage interests, residents – were not afforded a say in this proposal. There is a huge democratic deficit in our licensing regime as regards our natural resources, whether it be water, sea,fisheries, forests, oil and gas, estimated at €420bn. 

Think of what this would mean to the welfare of the community as regards proper healthcare, education and infrastructure. Private and multinational interests take precedence over the rights of the people. 

This was not the intention of the 1916 Proclamation, the Democratic Programme of government of the first Dail or the 1922 Constitution, which recognised the right of the people of Ireland to their natural resources. This right was removed by Article 10 to the State in the 1937 Constitution. 

We need either by amendment through a referendum or the courts to have a legal mechanism where a Public Trust Doctrine, which ‘grants the public certain procedural rights in addition to substantive rights, which result in a participatory regime for decision making on natural  resources to ensure the public are fully educated and informed and have a right to participate in decision making.’ 

This would reflect what the founding fathers of our State believed in.

Anne O’Leary,

17 Reenrour East,

Bantry.