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Concern as Dublin Bay drill plan boosted


Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay

Proposals to drill for oil in Dublin Bay have been boosted after local authorities were effectively blocked from the approval process.

An Bord Pleanala had been asked to rule on whether the oil well project should be subject to council planning laws.

Campaign group Dublin Bay Concern had referred the "very important" issue to the board, saying the outcome could have far-reaching effects.

But An Bord Pleanala ruled that proposals by Providence Resources to carry out exploratory drilling at the landward side of Kish Bank Basin, off Dalkey, are not subject to the local authority planning acts.

The board ruled that the project could not be considered a development under the Planning and Development Act as the works "would not be on, in, under or over land nor would they make any material change in the use of land".

Dublin Bay Concern had argued that the offshore site was in the functional area of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and therefore needed planning permission.

But Providence said the implication was that all future foreshore developments should be required to go through the council planning process.

If this were accepted, it would have an extremely negative impact on every industry looking to operate in the foreshore area and, in particular, the Irish offshore oil and gas industry, it said.

Providence added that the country's offshore oil and gas industry had already been damaged by the perception that the permitting and regulatory processes are unreliable and overly-complex. Referring to its decision last year to surrender its foreshore licence to drill in Dublin Bay, it said its own recent experience did not help with this perception.

Permission had been granted to Providence to drill an exploration well, but a lack of clarity on the permission led the company to surrender the approval. It made the decision after talks with the Department of the Environment.