The prospecting activities proposed under the prospecting licence application referred to in the Question comprise desk-top studies, mapping and geochemical sampling and, in accordance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (SI 477 of 2011), these have been screened to determine whether they are likely to have a significant effect on the environment. Based on the screening undertaken, it has been determined that the activities identified are temporary, nonintrusive, will involve minimal disturbance with a limited zone of influence and are not likely to have a significant effect on the environment.
If, on the basis of these activities, the company decides that exploratory drilling is warranted, further permission will need to be sought and any such proposals would be subject to further environmental screening and assessment, taking into account the precise location of the proposed drill site. Exploratory drilling typically involves obtaining for examination a cylindrical piece of subsurface material or ‘core’ of approximately 45mm in diameter, using recirculated water in the process.
For any proposed works within or in close proximity to European Sites, my Department consults with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before such works are approved.