An application for a prospecting licence for mining activities in Connemara has been refused by the Government.
The Canadian company planned to explore for metal, gold and silver in several townlands including Boolagare, Callow and Dolan. The proposed exploration would have taken place in parts of protected nature and heritage areas including the Connemara Bog Complex and Dogs Bay.
In June, the Department of Environment (DCCAE) announced its intention to grant a prospecting licence to MOAG. However, it has now refused the application as the company failed to provide additional information requested by DCCAE following its consideration of submissions received from the public and expert bodies.
In a submission to the Department, for example, An Taisce expressed concern about MOAG’s application ranging from its public consultation process, the extent of exploration activity as well as the type of minerals that are going to be explored for.
The submission stated that there are “significant legal questions” to be raised about the lack of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the current mineral exploration licencing regime in terms of screening for the suitability of the location of exploration areas.
The refusal was welcomed by Green Party Councillor for Galway City Pauline O’Reilly who had urging the Department to re-evaluate the application together with concerned locals.
A petition objecting to the granting of any licence “on the grounds of threats to the health and wellbeing of the natural environment” gained over 10,000 signatures. In addition, thousands of indivuals sent letters to DCCAE.
Ms O’Reilly said that the licence would have compromised “water quality, wildlife and the local economy” in the area. “This is one of the country’s most outstanding areas of beauty,” she said.
Prospecting licences, Ms O’Reilly said, could place Ireland in a difficult place legally and give mining companies a legitimate expectation of mining if gold and minerals are found.