Senator asks Minister if he has conflict of interest over Galway Bay energy test site

Sinn Féin Sen Trevor Ó Clocartaigh.

Sinn Féin Sen Trevor Ó Clocartaigh.

Environment Minister Simon Coveney must clarify if he has a conflict of interest in adjudicating on the lease application for the renewable energy test site proposed for Galway Bay, a Galway senator has demanded.

An Cheathrú Rua based Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has written to the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, Simon Coveney, to clarify the alleged conflict of interest, and to also extend the period for public submissions to between four and six months.

In his letter, Ó Clochartaigh askes to Minister to “indicate whether or not” he intends to “extend the period of consultation for the Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site Foreshore Lease Application” in Galway Bay, that is being proposed by the Marine Institute. The deadline for submissions is August 2.

Sen Ó Clochartaigh recently attended a public meeting, hosted by the Marine Institute in the Connemara Coast Hotel, regarding the foreshore lease application. According to the senator, it was “agreed by all parties” that the consultation process “has not been sufficient” and that there are “still many issues to be addressed”.

While the meeting acknowledged that Minister Coveney had granted an extension of the submissions period, the meeting heard “more time was needed to allow local people” make appropriate and informed responses.

aid it, as the applicant, has no role in that decision, but that it would have no objection to the same. The extension was supported at the meeting by TDs Hildegarde Naughten, Éamon Ó Cuív, and Catherine Connolly, as well as by councillors who were in attendance.

In his letter to the Minister Coveney, he also wrote: “As you were the Minister overseeing the work of the Marine Institute when the project was submitted and are now the Minister who will be adjudicating on the lease application, do you have a conflict of interest in relation to the process? If so, how do you propose the adjudication will be done in an independent manner?”

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