Business Irish

Saturday 16 December 2017

State failed to vet drilling in Dublin Bay -- An Taisce

Thomas Molloy and Treacy Hogan

AN Taisce complained yesterday that the authorities failed to properly assess the dangers posed by drilling in Dublin Bay after Providence Resources got permission to prospect for oil and gas off Dalkey. This could leave the State open to legal action, An Taisce added.

"The potential threats to Dublin Bay, which is after all Dublin's most important asset, have not been adequately assessed," An Taisce spokesman Charles Stanley-Smith said.

"This is the first time that a licence with potential major threats of pollution so close to the shoreline has been granted."

Providence and the exploration company's partner Petronas were this week granted permission to drill 6km off the coast but An Taisce fears this could damage animals such as seals, dolphins and porpoises.

Birds such as the Manx Shearwater (pictured), which is particularly vulnerable to oil spills could also be endangered by any leak.

A spokesman for Providence Resources said yesterday that the company carried an Environmental Area Assessment for the drilling operation, an Environmental Risk Assessment and drew up an Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

"We would like to reassure all interested parties that rigorous environmental and health and safety standards form a vital part of our ethos and detailed proposals on environmental mitigation measures and safety procedures have been submitted as part of this application," the spokesman added.

Providence has only received permission to drill an exploratory well in 85ft of water. It would need to get further permission to place an oil rig close to the villages of Dalkey and Killiney.

Serena Connor, of the Protect Our Coast campaign, said the lack of a public inquiry on the application was lamentable.

"We feel that the main issues of environmental damage, public consultation, fiscal terms and future alternative energy sources have been given no proper consideration in this decision," she said.

Planning Minister Jan O'Sullivan said yesterday that she was satisfied that the drilling would not have a significant negative impact on the marine environment.

"It was in the public interest to grant the licence," she added.

Irish Independent

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