Thursday, 13 July 2017
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Seaweed Harvesting Licences
1255. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the reason no public consultation meetings were held regarding the application for a licence for the mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33602/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1255 and 1303 together.
Normal public consultation procedures were followed in this case. The application was advertised in the Southern Star and was available for inspection at a local Garda Station for a period of 21 days. No submissions were received from members of the public.
In line with usual procedures, the application was also circulated to various bodies for their views and input. Submissions were received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the then Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Marine Survey Office, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, the Central Fisheries Board and the Marine Institute.
The EIA Directive applies to a wide range of public and private projects. It is a mandatory requirement for project types listed in Annex I of the Directive, e.g., the construction of motorways and airports or the construction of installations for the disposal of hazardous waste. For project types listed in Annex II, it is up to the consenting authority to determine if an EIS is required by carrying out EIA screening based on criteria set out in the Directive. Examples of Annex II projects include intensive fish farming, reclamation of land from the sea, extractive mining, fossil fuel storage or metal processing. An EIA may also be required where the thresholds set out in the Directive are not met (sub-threshold EIA) or where the project or activity is proposed to be carried out in a Natura 2000 site.
If the consenting authority determines that the EIA Directive applies to a project it requires that an applicant must prepare and submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), following which the consent authority would carry out EIA. In the case referred to, the proposed project is not within a Natura 2000 site, it is not of a class set out in Annex I of the Directive nor does it fall into Annex II; therefore, an EIS is not required. I should however point out that the Marine Licence Vetting Committee considered all material pertaining to the application and concluded that subject to compliance with specific conditions the proposed harvesting was not likely to have a significant negative impact on the marine environment.