Written Answers. - Offshore Exploration.

Joe Higgins

Question:

255 Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the implications for offshore exploration and development activities for oil and gas and other non-living marine resources as a result of the recent UK High Court judgment that the EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EC applies up to 200 nautical miles offshore; the plans, if any, she has to suspend future licensing activity for offshore oil and gas activity until the requirements of the directive have been fully met throughout Ireland's exclusive economic zone; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5209/00]

Joe Higgins

Question:

256 Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the measures, if any, she will take to ensure that the EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EC is applied to all offshore exploration and development activities for petroleum and other non-living marine resources which take place up to 200 nautical miles offshore; the steps, if any, she will take to ensure the protection of cetaceans, colonies of deep water coral lophelia pertusa and other marine life and their habitats from the adverse effects of offshore oil and gas exploration and development; and if she will make a statement on the matter [5210/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.

I am sure that the Deputy is aware that the UK courts have no powers within this jurisdiction and accordingly their decisions have no effect within the State.

I do not propose to comment on any hypothetical extension of the directive. However, I wish to advise the Deputy that deep water corallophelia pertusa is not covered by the directive, which only takes account of coastal and halophytic reefs.
Offshore exploration and developmental activities are a matter for my colleague, Deputy Fahey, Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources. If the remit of the directive is extended in the future, the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources will take account of its requirements when assessing offshore exploration applications.