Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (114)

Gay Mitchell

Question:

111 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has visited Sellafield nuclear facility in his current capacity; if he plans to visit in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27542/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I have not visited the Sellafield nuclear facility either in my current capacity or previously in any other capacity, nor is such a visit planned.

In relation to the Irish Government's ongoing campaign against the Sellafield nuclear plant, the current focus is on fostering the successful completion of ongoing discussions between Irish and UK officials aimed at improving co-operation and consultations between the two countries in regard to Sellafield. These discussions arise from the provisional measures order granted to Ireland in June 2003 by the arbitration tribunal in the context of legal proceedings being brought by Ireland against the UK under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, in regard to the Sellafield MOX plant.

This order also made provisions for reports on progress towards developing the improved co-operation and consultation structures to be submitted by both Ireland and the UK to the tribunal on specified dates. The next report is due to be submitted by both parties to the tribunal by 30 November 2004. Preparation for this is on schedule. The ongoing discussions and reports remain confidential to both parties and to the tribunal. However, it is my intention to report on any initiatives arising from this process in due course.

As the House will be aware, the substantive hearing of Ireland's legal action against the UK under UNCLOS is currently adjourned pending resolution of jurisdictional issues raised by the European Commission and which are now the subject of litigation between Ireland and the Commission before the European Court of Justice.