Refusing an extension of time to allow for public submissions on the Galway Bay marine and renewable energy test site foreshore lease application is "an absolute insult to the people of the area".
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly, who has condemned the Minister for Local Government, Simon Coveney, for having "simply ignored" requests by the Galway West TDs and a senator, to extend the time in which the public can make submissions on the application.
Foras na Mara has applied for the foreshore licence in the An Spidéal area. The lease is for a 35 year period and the application seeks to extend the project to wind energy, to include wind mills. Dep Connolly pointed out that this is a "significant change from the original wave energy project".
However Dep Connolly acknowledged that Foras na Mara had "no objection" to such extension of the submission period. Yet, despite "urgent representations" by Dep Connolly and Sen Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Minister Coveney has "failed to reply".
"Such behaviour does not help to build up confidence in the process nor indeed does it show any respect for the main stakeholder in this project which is the public," she said. Sen Ó Clochartaigh echoed these concerns, in a letter to the Minister, saying: "I find it most unfortunate that you have not responded or even acknowledged my previous emails in relation to the application...This certainly doesn't instill confidence in the local community to support government initiatives of this nature if a Minister will not even acknowledge or respond to a genuine request from them such as this."
Dep Connolly said the "public have genuine concerns in relation to both the consultation process and the scale and nature of the project proposed in Galway Bay".
She added: "Even at this late stage the Minister should see the sense of agreeing to an extension of time and seek to work with the people in the area. It is certainly not a way to inspire and encourage confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver on renewable energy."