An Taisce - Major concerns about the approval of Providence Resources P.L.C’s Foreshore Licence

4th October 2012
Press Release

An Taisce believes that the potential threats to Dublin Bay, which is after all Dublin’s most important asset, have not been adequately assessed in the approval of Providence Resources P.L.C.’s Foreshore Licence. This is the first time that a licence with potential major threats of pollution so close to the shore line, has been granted.

Overall, the assessment of the potential impacts of this exploration and drilling licence were not adequately evaluated to ensure the protection of a number of species and habitats. The precautionary principle should have been applied until the concerns voiced by An Taisce and others were addressed.

The fact that the Minister for Environment, Community, and Local Government has failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment to guard against an ad-hoc and piecemeal approach to exploration and extraction applications and that, in our opinion, the applicant should have had to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment could lead to a complaint to the European Commission showing that once more Ireland has failed to implement European Environmental Law.

ENDS

For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce Communications - Tel: 087 2411995

Notes:

An Taisce submitted comments in response to the consultation process for the foreshore license application, submitted by Providence Resources P.L.C. in February this year. Permission has now been granted for Providence Resources P.L.C. to conduct a site investigation and drill an exploratory well off the coast at Dublin and Wicklow. An Taisce voiced a number of concerns regarding the potential impacts this site investigation and the drilling activities. In particular, An Taisce highlighted the number of species and habitats of conservation concern that could be impacted. These included pelagic fish species, cetaceans and marine mammals that are likely to be affected and displaced by the acoustic emissions from the seismic surveying. Seals and cetaceans are protected under Article 12 of the Habitats Directive, and under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 1976-2005.

An Taisce also raised concerns over an number of bird species that are found in close proximity to the survey site and as stated within the environmental risk assessment are ‘very vulnerable to oil pollution’. For example, Manx Shearwater, 94% of this species’ global population breed in British and Irish waters, and as they tend to sit on the ocean surface in large aggregations, this species’ population would be extremely susceptible to oil pollution.

In addition, An Taisce submitted that the applicant should have carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment under Directive 2003/35 /EC, since sub threshold considerations apply where a range of location sensitivities arise. In this case, the site is on the Kish Bank, 8km from Dublin Bay SPA and 11 Km from Dublin bay SAC, and a number of concerns are raised in Annex I below.

Finally, An Taisce also highlighted the inadequacy of the Appropriate Assessment as required under the Habitats Directive, since Article 6 (2) and 6 (3) were not fully carried out. The Appropriate Assessment did not assess the potential impacts of the seismic waves from the survey on the Grey Seal, Harbour Porpoise, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, all of which are an Annex II species.

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