Following pressure from Galway politicians, Local Government Minister Simon Coveney, has finally agreed to extend the public consultation period for the Marine Institute’s plans involving renewable energy testing on Galway Bay.
The public consultation period has now been extended from Tuesday August 2 to Friday September 9. This extension follows on from two previous extensions granted in June and July. Galway TDs, particularly Independent Catrherine Connolly and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, were demanding the submissions period be extended, and were, as late as this morning, accusing the Minister of "ignoring" and failing to reply to their requests.
Fine Gael Galway West TD, and Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Seán Kyne, also demanded the extension of the public consultation period "on several occasions", and he welcomed today's development. “I am glad Minister Coveney has taken on board the concerns," he said. "Today’s extension means that up to 15 weeks will have been provided to interested residents and organisations to examine the plans and have their say."
However the 15 week extension is far short of the four to six month extension Sen Ó Clochartaigh requested from the Minister last week. Dep Kyne though said it is still "significantly more than the standard 21 days".
“Minister Coveney is concerned about unintended consequences a longer extension could have on other vital projects such as those contained in the Rebuilding Ireland housing programme," said Dep Kyne. “I am confident that the extension will provide ample time and opportunity for people to have their say on the project."
The Marine Institute’s foreshore lease application to upgrade the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site follows a public meeting on July 21 during which some participants requested more time to allow informed submissions on the application. This was the third such public meeting held as part of the consultation process.
The Marine Institute applied in April to the then Department of the Environment for a foreshore lease for the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test site where prototype marine renewable energy technology can be tested at reduced scale to determine viability in an ocean environment.
A copy of the application, and the relevant maps, plans, reports and drawings are available to download from the Department website and are viewable at Salthill Garda Station; Public Library, An Spidéal; and Comhlacht Forbartha An Spidéal Teo, An Spidéal.
The lease application proposes to upgrade the existing infrastructure and facilitate the deployment of a wider range of marine renewable energy devices and novel sensor technologies at the test site; it does not propose any change the location, area or size of the existing site; it proposes to allow a wider range of devices to be tested which would potentially include floating wind turbines. Under the lease application only one floating wind device could be tested on the site at any one time with a maximum of three unique renewable marine energy devices on site at any one time.
Those wishing to make a submission on the lease applications should do so in writing, giving reasons, no later than 5pm September 9, quoting ref: FS 006566, to the Foreshore Unit, Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Newtown Road, Wexford or [email protected].
Dep Catherine Connolly, in reaction to the deadline extension said: "While it was very late coming and left the people of the area working to the deadline for submissions of the second and therefore under awful pressure, I nevertheless very much welcome the extension to September 9."