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 prospecting licence, the Minister said none was required at this point.
“Desktop studies, geochemistry and surface geophysics are temporary, non-intrusive activities, involving minimal disturbance and have a limited zone of influence,” Minister Ryan’s response said.
“Such activities are not subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under national and EU legislation. In the event that a prospecting licence holder does identify a target for drilling, any proposed drilling activity will be subject to further environmental screening assessments by the Geoscience Regulation Office, including EIA Criteria Assessment, to determine whether screening under the EIA Directive is required, in accordance with national and EU legislation.”
Deputy Wynne also asked the Minister to outline the Government’s position on the environmental damage caused by mining industry. In addition, she asked if the Minister’s attention had been drawn to the level of greenhouse gasses produced by mining land his position on that given the Government’s climate action objectives.
Responding, the Minister said that mid-2021, his Department had published a draft Policy Statement for Mineral Exploration and Mining, and an associated Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Natura Impact Statement.
He added that after a period of public consultation, which closed last October, it is anticipated that a draft policy statement will be considered by Government in the coming months.
The Minister’s response added that: “The document highlights the role of minerals in our everyday lives and the critical role that they will play in our transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
“The draft policy recognises that we need to repair, reuse and recycle more minerals and metals, but that this alone will not supply the types and quantities of minerals required to decarbonise our energy through solar power, renewable wind energy and batteries.
“Relying solely on minerals sourced outside Ireland and the EU risks supporting their development in parts of the world where less stringent environmental and human rights standards apply, as well as risking our ability to secure the minerals required to make the green and digital transitions a reality.”
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 065 6864146.