This amendment is opposed. The period of 21 days specified in the Bill allows applicants sufficient time to arrange to place the required public notice in a local newspaper and to arrange with the Garda Síochána for the deposit of documentation for public viewing in Garda stations. It also allows the Department time to assess whether there are any substantial errors or omissions in the application which should be rectified prior to its being put forward formally for public consultation. Fourteen days would not be sufficient for these purposes. Details of all applications for dumping at sea are posted on the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources website on receipt and are therefore immediately accessible to interested persons.
As on Committee Stage, I am opposing amendment No. 5 as it is not considered necessary for notice of every permit application to be published in a national as well as a local newspaper, which is the primary medium. Moreover, apart from giving rise to unnecessary expense, such a requirement ignores the immediate posting of details of the application on the Department's website, which will ensure that any interested person anywhere can access that information immediately.
Regarding a test case, departmental officials met representatives of the Shannon Foynes Port Company in February 2004 to discuss various technical issues regarding the port company's proposed application to dispose of material from maintenance dredging from 2004 to 2008. At that meeting, it was agreed that the Shannon Foynes Port Company's application should be used as a test case for the new requirements regarding public notices. The decision to publish a notice in the Irish Independent on 15 March 2004, a national rather than a local newspaper, was taken owing to the fact that dredging would take place in both Limerick Port and Foynes.
One of the issues raised on Committee Stage was how the dredging of Foynes might impact on local business and the marine environment in County Clare, as Deputy Broughan has said. It was also to allow for the widest possible notice to access its impact.
It should also be noted that the public notice allows for a period of one calendar month for comments from members of the public, as specified in the Bill. The cost of publishing the notice was approximately €4,800. However, it is likely that other such notices in a local newspaper only will be less expensive. Drogheda Port Company published a similar notice in a local newspaper for a proposed capital dredging project at Tom Roes Point. The national newspaper was used in one area at a cost of €4,800. The local newspaper in Drogheda was also used, since it dealt specifically with that town. I do not have the figure but I know that the cost was substantially less.