Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ceisteanna (592, 593)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

592. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of an application for a prospecting licence by a company (details supplied) that want to prospect for base metals in County Galway; his plans to grant the licence; if so, the timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29887/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

593. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason he plans to issue a licence to prospect for minerals in townlands in the barony of Ballinahinch, Connemara, County Galway in view of the possible damage mining in the area would do to the environment and in further view of the fact that a major part of the area is designated as Natura 2000 sites; the consultations he has had with the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in relation to the planned prospecting licence in view of the high natural heritage value of the area; the consultations he has had with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in relation to the matter in view of the possible effect of the licence on the local tourist industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

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.