Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Foreshore Licence Applications
1702. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if an environmental impact assessment was required by his Department in the granting of the foreshore licence to a company (details supplied) for kelp harvesting in Bantry Bay; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36525/17]
1704. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if the monitoring programme attached to the foreshore licence granted to a company (details supplied) to harvest kelp in Bantry Bay will be carried out by the company; the reason he deems it appropriate for the monitoring to be carried out by a private for profit company and not by an independent body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36528/17]
1705. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the procedure for the granting of the foreshore licence to a company (details supplied) for kelp harvesting in Bantry Bay; if all statutory bodies, stakeholders and interested parties were informed of the application; the type of public consultation that was undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36541/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1702, 1704 and 1705 together.
The application referred to was assessed in line with procedures followed for other applications assessed at the time. In addition, standard public consultation procedures were also followed for this application. It 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 licence provides for a four year rotation of zones with a stand by zone only to be harvested if weather is adverse (99 hectares/240 acres). On average, some 175 hectares/432 acres will be subject to harvest annually, less than 1% of the area of the bay.
The rotational harvesting plan ensures that only a portion of the bay is harvested each year. To strengthen the sustainability of the harvesting plan for the licensed area within the bay, the harvesting is also subject to a strict monitoring programme, and requires approval of a baseline study prior to commencement of operations. All costs associated with the baseline study and costs associated with the monitoring programme were or will be fully borne by the licensee.
The monitoring programme includes comparisons between harvested and non-harvested areas in each zone for density and height of kelp together with quantitative measurements of flora and fauna prior to commencement of harvesting and in years 3 and 5 for 15 areas within each zone.
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.