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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 from people who are opposed to the granting of the licence.

Councillor Pat Hayes tabled a motion requesting Environment Minister Eamon Ryan not to proceed with the notice of intention to grant a prospecting licence to Minco.

The Fianna Fáil councillor acknowledged the work completed behind the scenes by Councillor Donna McGettigan to formulate this motion.

He questioned the timing of the notice indicating the company’s intentions on December 9, 2021 in the run-up to Christmas, with a closing date of January 8, 2022 for public submissions.

Stating this did a huge injustice to Clare people, he pointed out this is an important issue in view of the environmental damage that may be caused in South-East Clare if mining proceeded, particularly townlands that are linked to Special Protection Areas and Hen Harrier ground.

Considering Clare County Council has previously banned fracking, he said it is time for the council to state that prospecting and mining is not working in coherence with the environment.

At the minimum, he stressed there is a need for extension of time to facilitate proper public consultation on this matter.

Councillor McGettigan admitted she didn’t see the public notice until it was pointed out to her as she was busy with County Development Plan meetings.

In addition to seeking an extension of time for consultation, she said it would be better if a prospecting licence was refused.

While Councillor Liam Grant believes granting a prospecting licence would have no environmental impact, he pointed out mining is a completely different story in view of examples in Ireland of good and bad mining.

He welcomed assurances the public consultation period will be extended.

This motion was supported by Councillors Hayes, Johnny Flynn, Donna McGettigan, Pat O’Gorman, Liam Grant, Joe Garrihy, Cillian Murphy, Pat Daly, Johnny Flynn, Ian Lynch, Michael Begley, P J Kelly, Ann Norton, Tony O’Brien, Alan O’Callaghan, Paul Murphy and Pat Burke.

Director of service, Liam Conneally said this process is under the responsibility of Minister Ryan and pledged to make any information provided by the company available in the local planning department.

Mr Conneally pointed out a lot of prospecting licences that are granted are not acted upon.

If Minco is granted a prospecting licence, he pointed out there is a separate planning process that has to be completed including an Environmental Assessment process in parallel.

by Dan Danaher

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