I propose to take Questions Nos. 592 and 593 together.
A Prospecting Licence application from MOAG Copper Gold Resources has been received. The application requests consent to prospect in a number of townlands in County Galway. This application was published in the Connacht Tribune on 6 June 2019 and has been open for consultation since then.
A Prospecting Licence was held for this area between 2006 and 2018.
A Prospecting Licence (PL) relates to prospecting only and does not confer any permission to mine.
In the event that an economically viable mineral deposit is discovered, a completely new process is required in advance of permission being granted to mine. A State Mining Facility is only granted once Planning Permission has been obtained from the Local Authority (incorporating full environmental impact assessment) and an Integrated Pollution Control Licence (IPC) has been received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
All prospecting activities proposed to be undertaken under a Prospecting Licence are subject to environmental screening by my Department (including screening for Appropriate Assessment and, in the case of drilling, Environmental Impact Assessment). Connemara National Park is more than 10 kilometres from the proposed licence area, and there is long standing policy in place that prohibits prospecting in a National Park.
There has been no specific consultation with the Minister for Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht or the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in relation to this application. However, should any future licensee propose to undertake prospecting activities within a designated Natura 2000 site, the normal protocol is for the Department to seek observations from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
My Department is not in receipt of an application to mine in Connemara, Co Galway.