In Dail Eireann this afternoon, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett has accused the Minister for the environment of contempt for public consultation and EU law in relation to the granting of a foreshore licence to Providence Resources to drill an exploratory well in Dublin Bay.
Minister Phil Hogan granted a foreshore licence to Providence Resources to drill an exploratory well just 6km from the coast of Dublin earlier this month. This licence was granted without an Environmental Impact Assessment or a public inquiry despite the fact that more than 300 submissions from the people of Dublin specifically called for a public inquiry and many of them also called for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The EU Environmental Assessment Directive states that “Member States shall adopt all measures necessary to ensure that, before consent is given, projects likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue inter alia, of their nature, size or location are made subject to an assessment with regard to their effects.”
The Aarhus Convention or the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, that Ireland signed up to last June calls on member states to grant the public rights regarding access to information and public participation in matters concerning the environment.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The Minister for the Environment is the political equivalent of an accountant that specializes in tax avoidance. When it comes to austerity – this government is applying EU directives to the letter of the law, but when it comes to matters of public consultation and the environment, rather than apply the highest standards aspired to in the Environmental Directive and the Aarhus Convention, the Minister has looked to avoid any real consultation with the people of Dublin on this very important issue.”
“There seems to be a common thread in this government’s attitude to EU rules. When they protect the interests of corporate business and the profiteers the government implements them, but when they might hurt the profits of these businesses they ignore them.”
“This license should not have been granted without an EIA or a public inquiry. The Minister tries to draw a distinction between the license to explore and a future license to extract which he claims will be accompanied by an EIA. The problem with this is that Providence are involved in an age old industry favourite – “project splitting”. In reality the exploration and the extraction are all part of the same project.”