Having received permission from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, BIM has begun the process of Statutory Consultation as the next step in the process of applying for a licence for a Deep Sea salmon farm in Galway Bay. BIM has been asked to share the licence application, along with the Environmental Impact Statement with a list of State bodies for their appraisal and feedback on the details of the proposed project. All of this feedback will be made available to the public to further assist them in their assessment of the Environmental Impact Statement when it goes to full public consultation.
The period of Statutory Consultation has been set by the Department at eight weeks, ending on Tuesday 2nd October 2012. After this period, BIM expect to be asked to go to full public consultation, at which point members of the public will have eight weeks to assess and make comment on the proposed application to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The BIM licence application is to produce 15,000 tonnes of organic farmed salmon in the outer parts of Galway Bay. In a new departure, BIM is applying for the licence, which they will then franchise to a third party who agrees to a legally binding contract to farm the Atlantic salmon to the highest organic and environmental standards. The proposed farm will create 500 jobs (both directly and indirectly) and greatly enhance Ireland’s ability to supply the outstanding demand worldwide for Irish organic salmon.
To further assist the public consultation process, BIM intends to make all statutory responses available on the BIM website, along with the Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS will also be available as a hard copy in a number of designated outlets along the West Coast and the public will have eight weeks to provide their feedback to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Previously, both statutory and public consultation would have been carried out in parallel. However, Ireland has recently (June 2012) ratified the Aarhus Convention. The Convention lays down rules to promote citizens involvement and to improve public consultation in the making of decisions with potential environmental impact by the state. Given the recent ratification of the Convention and for a number of other legal and technical reasons, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, T.D. has signed a new Statutory Instrument (SI No. 301 of 2012), bringing into law new periods of public consultation for fish farm licence applications. In this instance the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have instructed BIM to carry out statutory consultation in full before proceeding with public consultation.
BIM believe that this approach will help to further inform the public during their period of consultation.