SINN Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has thrown her support behind a community campaign to prevent mechanised Kelp farming in Bantry Bay.
The Ireland South MEP heard the concerns of members of the community at a meeting with the group opposed to the plans in Bantry at the weekend.
“This is not a case of a local group with a ‘not-in-my-back-yard’ mentality, the outcome of this dispute will have ramifications for the entire Irish coastline,” she said.
“There are numerous concerns, backed up by environmental and scientific research, about the sustainability of mechanised kelp farming, the damage it will do to the bay’s eco-system, the effect it will have on tourism and the consequences for the rest of Ireland is a precedent is set here.
“There are also serious questions over how this licence came to be granted and the manner in which it was granted with little to no community consultation, no Economic Impact Assessment, no archaeological assessment and zero consultation with either the council or The Bantry Bay Coastal Zone Charter.
“The environmental checks being put in place are inadequate to say the least, with the first review due to take place three years into the process, when the damage to the area’s eco-system will have been well done, and even at that the reviews themselves are thrown into question by the fact that Bioatlantis, the company operating the machinery, will be carrying them out themselves.
“I am also deeply concerned by the fact that the Department of the Marine have invested millions in public money into Bioatlantis, a private company.
“There is something distinctly off about the entire venture and I share the concerns of the locals. At the very least this project, due to begin next month, must be put on hold until a proper investigation can be held into the granting of this licence and the effect it will have on the area.
“I am currently working on a Biodiversity Protection File, which I will check to see if it can be applied to this situation. I will also be requesting an urgent meeting with the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly on the issue and submitting a PQ to the EU Parliament on it to see if there is any way Europe can intervene to halt or slow the project.
“I would urge coastal communities around the country to get involved in this campaign. This is not just an issue for Bantry Bay. Bantry is being used as a guinea pig for this type of mechanised kelp farming, which has never been carried out anywhere else in Ireland or Britain, and if it is given the go ahead here Ireland has well over a million square kilometres of coastline that companies will be eyeing up and that the government will only be too happy to sell off.”
Pics – All ages are concerned about the effect of mechanised kelp farming on the bay. This book on Irish marine life was sent to Liadh by the daughter of one of the committee members.
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada and Councillor Paul Hayes with members of the community group opposed to mechanical kelp