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Environment

Wynne questions Minister over prospecting licence plan

A SERIES of questions have been put to the Minister for the Environment, by Clare’s Sinn Fein TD over proposals to prospect for silver and gold ore in East Clare.  Deputy Violet Anne Wynne tabled the Parliamentary Questions (PQs) to Minister Eamon Ryan on foot of controversy over attempts by a Navan-based mining company, Minco, to secure a prospecting licence for a number of towanlands in Tulla and Bunratty Upper. (Read about the public meeting against the move here) The deadline for submissions was extended to Sunday last, after a public outcry, and intervention from Senator Róisín Garvey.  Minister Ryan confirmed the extension to January 23, outlining that an additional 14 days had been given. The Kilrush-based representative asked a range of questions of the Minister on his knowledge of the East Clare proposals and mining and prospecting policy generally.  In response to a question on what kind of environmental impact statements are required when a company applies for a …

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EPA concerned at home heating systems’ impact on Ennis air

ELEVATED particulate matter levels from domestic home heating systems during cold weather, as experienced in Ennis earlier this month, “is a cause of concern”, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency said it is working with Clare County Council “to better understand the causes of poor air quality in Ennis”. The Clare Champion contacted the EPA for comment after concerns were raised about the town’s air quality following the detection of a spike in air pollution levels on the night of January 16. Particulate matter (PM) are minute particles of dust, soot and smoke and the daily limit for PM10 is 50 ug/m3. PM10 of 485.38ug/m3 and PM2.5 of 467.58ug/m3 was recorded in Ennis, January 16, at 7pm, along with sulphur dioxide measuring 67.22ug/m3. On the same day, China’s notoriously smoggy capital city Beijing experienced moderate to good levels of air pollution. According to the EPA the daily average PM10 at the Ennis monitoring station for  January 16, …

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Meeting hears call to ban mineral prospecting in Clare

MORE than 30 people attended an online meeting last week to voice opposition to plans for mineral prospecting in East Clare, writes Fiona McGarry. The gathering heard that a county-wide ban should be sought, in the same way that fracking had previously been prohibited in Clare. The virtual event was organised by the newly-formed Keep Tulla Untouched and hosted by co-founder Jacintha Van Roij. Ms Van Roij, who described herself as a small-holder in the area, said that while a representative of Minco Ireland, the company currently seeking a prospecting licence, had been invited to attend, no response had been received. Farmers, public representatives and environmental campaigners alike were alarmed earlier this month at news that Department of the Environment intended to grant a licence to the Navan-based company for the prospecting of minerals, including silver and gold ore. After a political and public outcry, the Department extended the submission period to January 23 and an emergency motion was carried …

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Kilrush plant will end raw sewage discharge into Estuary

WORK has begun to construct a Wastewater Treatment Plant in Kilrush which will end the discharge of raw sewage into the Shannon Estuary. The project being delivered by EPS Group on behalf of Irish Water and Clare County Council is expected to take 18 months and is due for completion in 2023 It involves the construction of a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant and sewer pipelines that will serve a population equivalent of approximately 6,700. The pumping station on Frances Street will also upgrade its pumps, mechanical plant and a storm water storage tank. Speaking on-site, Esther White from Irish Water said “Wastewater from the public sewer network in Kilrush is currently discharged untreated into the estuary. “This unacceptable practice threatens water quality, detracts from the amenity value of the area and does not comply with EU regulations relating to the treatment of wastewater. “Providing improved wastewater treatment for Kilrush will enhance the environmental amenity and protect the waters of …

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€5.3m Active Travel funding for Clare projects

A TOTAL of €5.3million in Active Travel funding has been allocated to Clare County Council to enhance walking and cycling infrastructure in 2022. The money is to be dispersed to projects across the county, with almost €1.5million earmarked for Ennis projects. Communities in the west and north of the county will also see considerable investment under this round of funding. Welcoming the announcement of the €5,298,000 NTA funding, Clare Green Party Senator Róisín Garvey said, “Having worked on active travel with schools and communities all across Clare for 14 years, it is great to see Clare County Council receiving the funding they have badly needed to make our county a more walking and cycling friendly County, thanks to the commitment of Minister Eamon Ryan and myself to the same. “Active travel benefits us mentally and physically. It helps connect communities, provide alternatives for people who don’t drive, reduce air pollution and dependence on cars and reconnect the very fabric of …

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Air pollution in Ennis at weekend worse than in Beijing

AIR pollution levels in Ennis were higher than in Beijing at the weekend with the EPA’s air quality monitoring station showing a significant spike in pollutants, despite a smoky coal ban being in place in the county capital since 2011. Fears this “very harmful” pollution will result in “significant adverse health impacts” has sparked renewed calls from a former Mayor of Ennis for the establishment of an Ennis Clean Air Strategy. On Sunday evening at 7pm the EPA recorded a sharp rise in the levels of particulate matter associated with the burning of solid fuels, almost ten times higher than the EPA’s daily limit. Particulate matter (PM) are minute particles of dust, soot and smoke and the daily limit for PM10 is 50 ug/m3. PM10 of 485.38ug/m3 and PM2.5 of 467.58ug/m3 was recorded in Ennis on Sunday along with sulphar dioxide measuring 67.22ug/m3. On the same day, China’s capital city experienced moderate to good levels of air pollution. Councillor Johnny Flynn …

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Council backs call to refuse mineral prospecting licence

CLARE County Council has supported a call for Environment Minister Eamon Ryan to reject the granting of a proposed prospecting licence to Minco Ireland in South-East Clare. Minco Ireland wants to conduct desktop studies, geochemistry and drilling in the area, which the company claims would involve ‘minimal’ levels of disturbance in surrounding communities. The Department of the Environment announced its intention to grant a licence to Navan, Co. Meath-based Minco Ireland Ltd. to prospect for base metals, baryte, gold and silver ores in Tulla Upper Barony and Bunratty Upper Barony. This announcement was made on December 9 2021 with the closing date for any objections to the granting of the licence required to be submitted by January 8 2022. The public consultation period has been extended to January 24 following representations to the department and huge concern in the affected communities. A petition by local environmental group Futureproof Clare launched on Thursday January 6 has received more than 1,500 signatures …

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Appeal to ‘keep Tulla untouched’ as mineral prospecting looms

CONCERN over the possibility of mineral prospecting in East Clare has prompted the formation of an opposition group in the Tulla area.  Keep Tulla Untouched was set up on foot of a notice by the Department of the Environment signalling its intention to grant a prospecting licence to Minco Ireland. Christine O’Brien, whose land spans a number of the townlands earmarked for silver and gold prospecting, is among the members of the group. The organisation’s submission describes the local community as “stunned” at the possibility of mineral exploration. Keep Tulla Untouched has objected to the the prospecting licence on the basis that the original public consultation period, which spanned Christmas, was too short. While this has been extended to January 23, following the intervention of Senator Róisín Garvey, the group insists that there has not been enough information. The submission also asks that “due consideration is given to the fact that these explorations are being considered for areas that are …

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