Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (523)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

523. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason a licence (details supplied) which covers western areas of Connemara has been re-advertised in a recent licence competition for prospecting licences for mining in view of the status of the much of the area as Natura 2000 sites, the outstanding and unique scenic nature of the area in the county development plan and the local opposition to mining in the area; the consultations he has had with the Ministers for Housing Planning and Local Government and Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the proposal to re-advertise the area in the recent licence competition; the discussions he has had with local public representatives including Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and local authority before making the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47510/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The licence in question relates to Prospecting Licensing area PL 930. This particular licence has been included in a Prospecting Licensing competition, recently advertised on my Department’s website, which covers all areas that have become available for application since the last competition was held. Only “available” ground may be released through competition. Certain ground is deemed unavailable for competition, such as areas in National Parks and these are areas which are generally not available for application. There is currently no application for a Prospecting Licence received by my Department for this area.

Furthermore, any new application received would be subject to screening for Appropriate Assessment by my Department in compliance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011(SI 477 of 2011). Should a licensee propose to undertake prospecting activities within or near a designated Natura 2000 site, it is a requirement that an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report, which would include an ecological assessment, would be carried out and submitted as part of any application for approval to undertake such works. My Department also consults with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before any such proposed works would be approved. A new public consultation process would be undertaken providing details of the new application.

Any application for a Mining Licence involves a completely separate process which requires consultation under the Planning and Development legislation and Environmental Impact Assessment legislation.