Allihies weekends

Proceedings of the Allihies Weekend 2003


Proceedings of the Allihies Weekend 2003


House rules

The Definitions

Saturday Workshops

Notifiable diseases
Infrastructure and funding
Ground and surface water
Water borne pathogens

Environmental Constitutional Rights

Climate change - Clean air

Land Use - Access & rights of way

Environmental Crime and Corporate Responsibility

Trade & Globalisation

CAP - WTO Rules our farms

Fish Wild and Caged

Global Sustainable Forest Management

Sunday Workshops

Legal Workshop
Company Ltd. By Guarantee
Constitution (Irish and EU)
Civil Liberties

What is it
Setting up a trust

Direct action
Legal implications

The Role and Effectiveness of the EPA

Agenda 21 [became social partnerships]
Partnership statement

EIS Workshop
Non technical summaries and how to understand them








ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS - The Beginning of our Journey to a Definition………..


¬? The environment is for live.
¬? The right not be driven to extinction.
¬? Aware now how to harmonise with tomorrow.
¬? Also the rights of future generations.
¬? To leave this world in a better state than the way we found it


¬? Be mindful.
¬? Participation in decision process
¬? Personal environmental rights - right to free expression of concerns to any regulatory body regarding new proposals & enforcement of any cences
¬? Personal environmental rights, Information on any impact on environment, built, natural, media, water, air, noise
¬? Respect from others; Who has the right to pollute my well?
¬? The right to live with dignity and fulfil our potential as sentient beings.
¬? To receive in a sustainable way what we are entitled to without having to organise and fight for
¬? Responsibility
¬? Freedom of understanding, access and interaction
¬? I would like the rights presently reserved for economic development extended to environmental protection


¬? Human rights vs GAIA's rights?
¬? A nation without its mother tongue is only half a nation; a nation without its natural heritage has lost its soul.
¬? Nature has rights.
¬? All species of our natural heritage gets a fair chance.
¬? Environmental rights are not just about human rights. It's about respecting nature, not dominating it.
¬? Not to damage the ozone layer, to keep the trees and bushes and not to harm our animals.
. Not to harm the air and water with pollution. To build environmental houses and buildings.
¬? Earth is much better at surviving than humans.
¬? Sometimes the "rights" of animals and plants to their habitat has to take precedence to the rights of humans, They were here first.


¬? Protection against property rights
¬? Right shouldn't cost money
¬? The right to live in harmony with nature, which over-rides economic interests of minorities enterprises


¬? Living in a more balanced world.
¬? Clean air, clean water, unpoisoned food
¬? Equal share of & access to earth resources and capacities including human collective knowledge and culture
¬? A safe clean & healthy earth for all equally
¬? The right to a fair access to the earth
¬? Air, water, soil, noise, fauna, flora, movement, work, living, balance
¬? Where I live! What do I want to live in? My rights to clean air, water, etc. and my responsibility to get it.
¬? To give back some good, not to take, take, take!
¬? reconciling the individual need with the globe
¬? Clear and identified source of food. Do imported mangoes cause poverty in the Philippines.


¬? Freedom of choice?
¬? You, we, they see, hear, feel, smell, taste, eat, shit, breathe, walk, think, talk, touch the environment.
¬? The world includes the earth and humanity, so better word to use than environment.


1. Human beings should accept that they are positioned within an ecological system.

2. We interact within an ecological system., We must balance competing interest within that system.

3. Loss of autonomy., Ordinary people feel they have no control. They don't know if they have rights or what they are. - So, where is the control?

4. Conflicts in the community between a very strong lobby for personal property rights

5. How to access our rights, what are the blocks?

¬? The legal route, incorporating limited liability companies representing environmental groups to take legal proceedings
¬? Broader more inclusive discussions before decisions are made

6. Core environmental principles / rights are contained in many international treaties and agreements including European environmental law., We need to enshrine these in a European Constitution.

7. Environmental rights are not contained in the constitution. Do we want European Environmental Directives translated into constitutional principles?

8. Concentrate our energies into influencing the framework for the European Constitution. Opportunity now to do something about this

9. Our environmental and human rights are mediated by civil servants whose reaction to the general public is very dismissive (to have regard to submissions).




Lack of vision / Absence from social partnership / Locking into high energy demand ------- Formal (Input into curriculum) / Informal (Telling it like it is) / FIE EDUCATIONAL LTD. / Cumulative Effects / Time Trap / Consequences / Job Loses / Opportunities


Incineration / Transport / Peat Stations ----------- Tax on Fuel / End to national Subsidies / Boat not Air / Rail not Road / PUBLIC TRANSPORT / Public Private Partnerships / Cross Subsidies


Waste / Transport / Globalisation ----------- Zero Waste / Renewable Energy / Public Transport / Architecture / Polluter pays / Engineering / Localisation / Removal of Organic Waste / Deposits on Bottles / Assistance to Recycling


Housing controlled / Sustainable Villages








o --------- POLLUTION !!!!! ------------









District Court ~ Fines too low, companies falling under different charters (e. g. Deleware, USA), corporations seek max. return to shareholder not environmental concerns
?ò separate board with consumers & public representatives
so boards aren't entirely comprised of shareholders
?ò use law to prevent environmental problems instead of using it to penalize companies after the fact


?ò Corporations using education of 3rd World as tool/opportunity for PRIVATISATION
?ò Environmental Impact Assessment supposes to be impartial‚Ķon us on community as of now
?ò EIA (as tool) vs. more power to individual for action
?ò subsidize public to take on lawful action
(but what about lack of participation of public?)
?ò need more resources to be able to participate


?ò suppose to be in best interest of environment BUT business squeezes out those who are ethical
?ò tri-partnership: public / private / people
new company
?ò would commission E.I.S. and therefore be more ethical
?ò internalize community & environment within a company (but keep in mind the strength of the corporations, not always concerned with environment if hurts profit


grant license & put in conditions
?ò rarely reject and therefore fundamental change in, e. g. farm industry, is more difficult this route


Rights & freedoms of ALL (public / private)
e. g. water extraction INTEL (Dublin-West), affects water supply
?ò costs, impacts on a cost (need financial figure to estimate value)
to people with compensation to community
?ò INTEL, take water downstream & put H¬?O back clean;
recycle water (not just creating steam)
charge for water €
?ò create more awareness: with employees of INTEL, public to put pressure on the companies


?ò how do we get more direct participation & representation
e. g. to check that incidents of cancer NOT related to pollutants
?ò don't like env'talist pov. that the JOBS AREN'T WORTH IT
?ò get more representation at the top, be a part of change


?ò change this paradigm
?ò use voting power
?ò financial support (so can be heard)
?ò be a part of the actual structure, AQUIRE ECONOMIC POWER
?ò translation of legal & technical "jargon" so we all are working from equal level of knowledge / info


Environmentalists (in few) are single voices here & there -- not strong
?ò if community is economically inclined, won't be as motivated to aid with environmental threats
?ò gov't / corporate vs. public (inactive) & environmentalists
?ò € & tax incentives

9. POWER STRUGGLES --- how do we fight them get support

?ò More people pwr ---- Make ppl. care
?ò better communication system
?ò Make objectives clear


Economic growth as the driver

Corporate control
Debt backed
National economies addicted to growth
Driven by cheap fuel
Needs to be within planets capacity

Fairness, Debt

Fair trade not free trade
Corporate accountability / responsibility

Local Economy

One solution, will become a necessity
True costs need to be factored
Less unsustainable trade
Communities providing more of their food, energy, etc.

Global Governance

Reform/disband WTO, World Bank, Information systems
Fiscal; reform to replace unsustainable systems


Consequences of our actions, responsibility
Creative ways to transmit new ideas

How could technology help

Open Source software
Facilitating the sharing of ideas. Cooperation
India media

Philosophical shift, paradigm shift

Hope ----- Rise of global justice movement ----- Social reform


TAX FREE NOT ON ! -------- Subsidy

?ò Horse Industry
?ò Equine performance
?ò Health + Behaviour
?ò Anatomy + Physiology
?ò Health + Disease
?ò Reproduction
?ò Soil science
?ò Pharmacology
?ò Biochemistry
?ò Biology
?ò Microbiology
?ò Chemistry
?ò Marketing (Business)
?ò Business Information
?ò Technology/Systems
?ò Accounting
?ò Economics
?ò Personnel Management

1. Survival of the Family Farmer

Environmental Interests vs. Corporate Farming ---- GM Food --- Clean Water --- Hormones

2. IFA

?ò Focused on large Farms
?ò Vested Interests
?ò Not for the Family Farmers
?ò 40% grants to 3% of the Farmers

3. Non subsidy corporate farming is in trouble requiring subsidy & not sustainable.

4. WTO is not an inclusive organisation, i.e. does not take into consideration human rights & social justice.

5. Animal Welfare

6. Indigenous cattle (Protection of)









The Allihies Weekend held by Friends of the Irish Environment had 42 registered participants from all corners of Ireland. Amongst the many workshops chosen by the participants for the second day was 'Global Forestry.'

The Workshop first addressed the social justice aspects, focusing on the issue of the effects of broadleaf imports to Ireland on the source country.

They suggested that Ireland through its imports of hardwood was 'living off the backs of the third world'.

As far as Ireland itself was concerned, the national forest policy had produced 'desertification', the abandonment of the countryside. The failure to regenerate local communities through multi functional forestry and the impossibility of access in conifer plantation forestry were both raised as social downsides.

The Workshop suggested that there was a link between the use of toxic glues and chemicals in the processing of Irish wood, an environmental issue, with the unhealthy working conditions and the use of emigrants as labour, social issues.

The degradation of the soil by conifers as opposed to broadleaves was raised as an environmental issue. The loss of heritage and visual intrusion were both environmental and social issues.

It was suggested that any defence of forestry through Dobray's 1993 'State of the Environment' promotion of forestry for carbon sequestration was no longer a surety and had been seriously undermined by recent research. The Workshop urged that attention be given to breaking this connection, which now seems to be a predominant justification for conifer plantations in Ireland.

The Way Forward: the Workshop concluded that the conifer, broadleaf balance had to be radically revised to provide Ireland with the hardwood timber it is currently importing from global deforestation. Unless there are urgent changes, there will be a 'gap' in the supply of broadleaf timber when supplies from underdeveloped countries are curtailed and Irish broadleaf planting has not yet come on stream.

Change relied on a revaluation of the 1996 National Forestry Strategy. Restrictions on imports should be urgently sought; CAP should fund only multi-purpose forestry. FSC should be bashed internationally to further limit deforestation and used nationally to seek sustainable forestry.

The final message of the work shops was, education, especially telling the farmers, many of whom did not know that the law requires they replant their crop at the end of the first rotation, with no grant.


LOOK AT CURRENT DRAFTTEXT AT ------ special reports


€€€ to outside countries should not be spent in environmentally damaging ways.
Monitoring, regulation
Compliance terms


o Hg soap for Africa man made with govt €€

o BP role in Nigeria might lead to sanctions within EU on co.

What must be in?

o How does an individual for an ENGO

-- make impact?
-- work with partner NGOs in other EU states / jointly in Ireland?

¬? CLG

o Method of enforcing unimplemented Commission Directives
[Need to have CLG, company

?ò limited by guarantee which can then claim damages if complaint to commission upheld]

o Company has clear wide purpose.

o Legal action at lower risk and parallel but independent direct action.


Not reinvent the wheel

Types of school

Systemic problems, the whole paradigm, integrated not compartmentalised

No school visits, transition year only opportunity

Ecological, not environmental

Changing perceptions (integrated not compartmentalised)

Education is life long, adult education

Needs creative presentation
o Outdoor workshops
o Drama
o Landscape
o Local places

Making information available as a stepping board

Use the multiplier effect, 'GAP', agents of change

Possible FIE Educational trust

Use the NGO Secretariat to network with existing groups and find out what is going on
o Women's groups
o Nimby developments
o ENGO contacts
o Recycling
o Links for workshops

Long run up

Tool kits?

Training for trainers

Maintaining the core people
o Support
o Ensuring continuity of expertise
o Capacity building

E learning
o E-courses
o Take over FIE website

Mission statement:
'Promote integrated ecological approach to environmental education.'



?ò spread the information, don't just wait for someone to ask

?ò local, national & complaints sections

3. Companies more accountable to community
(not just shareholders)

4. Make information more accessible ~ give people the "facts", show them way to acquire information

5. Independent Monitoring
?ò local residents group
?ò with funding for public participation
?ò € from developer

Make information, documentation available

Allihies Weekend Proceedings 2002

"Effective Strategies for the Irish Environmental Movement"
March 8 - 10, 2002, Allihies, County Cork


"Effective Strategies for the Irish Environmental Movement"
March 8 - 10, 2002, Allihies, County Cork


Introduction & Ground Rules

1. Media

2. Access To Information - How To Get It

3. Using The Political Systems

4. NGO Cooperation - using the new funding

5. Strategic Issues in the New Planning Bill

6. [The EPA - What Do We Know About It?]

7. The Sea

8. [Public Transport or Motorways]

9. Cultural Change & Paradigm shift

10. [Agenda 21 - Exposing The Non-Action]

11. Making More Effective Recourse To The EU

12. WSSD - Jo'burg - Earth Summit RIO + 10

13. How To Shaft The Environmental Movement



This first Allihies Conference was an idea that grew out of the meetings of Friends of the Irish Environment, an environmental network established in 1997. There were so many environmental problems and each required its own strategy. Yet we were always so busy fighting fires that there never seemed to be enough time to consider what effective strategies we could develop.

10 Workshops were suggested at that FIE meeting last autumn and modified subsequently over the months. On the first day of the Weekend, suggestions were taken for "Your Choice" Workshops, and so three Workshops were added for the first session on Sunday morning - The Sea, The Paradigm Cultural Shift, and Transport.

The Weekend was professionally facilitated. Flip charts were made in each Workshop and the results were presented back to the full meeting at the end of each day. It is the contents of these charts that form the basis of these proceedings. Although perhaps one or two extended this remit, this can only help to make up for the ones that are yet to surface - as do the emailed comments in the Appendixes.

If there were a single lesson, it would be that professional facilitation is the only way we will be able to share the best of ourselves while controlling the less useful impulses. There are numerous thanks for all those locally and nationally who helped make the Weekend such a success, but the greatest thanks of all must go to our facilitator, Pamela Hill.

The second discovery - and perhaps the most startling - was that we did not need the experts we had considered inviting. The amount of knowledge that was available from those who attended was astonishing and inspiring - and demonstrated how much we could do if we were actually organized.

The third key discovery arose from the recurring theme over the Weekend that the use of the Internet is our greatest advantage. Again and again it became clear that we must expand our understanding and use of what the net can do for the NGO movement. This means not only developing our channels of communication, from organizing our use of email better - avoiding overload - to communicating regularly through websites and virtual meetings.

Two kinds of websites must be developed. One will make the information we need available to us - such as both the UN Official news about the WSSD Earth Summit and the NGO views from around the world - including our own as they develop. The other form of website will enable us to offer our knowledge to all the groups in the country who need to know how to intervene effectively in the political and administrative system of our country.

This is grass roots empowerment, and it is at the very heart of those who work in the Friends of the Irish Environment network.





One Voice At a Time

All Ideas Are Equal, Legitimate, and Valuable

The Proceedings Will be Anonymous

WORKSHOP 1: Media, Including Electronic Newsletters And Websites

The Media will not even disseminate proposed events, let alone cover them
Cutbacks after 9/11 are restricting coverage of minority interests
Non-professional presentations by us
Too complicated - aim for the simple clear approach of the tabloids
Editorial censorship - even if a good journalist writes the story, the editors are binning, shredding, and cutting the stories
¬? All environmental news is bad
¬? The rant mode turns people off


Tightening up our approach
¬? Make it newsworthy - direct actions - find a victim
¬? Keep it simple. Tell a story.
¬? Things that people understand - "My head hurts when I pass that factory"
¬? Go for every-house-in-Ireland stories
¬? More environmental TV - easy to relate to
¬? Audio and video PRs - Iva to make one from our proceedings
¬? Get to the local groups
¬? Pass on PR to be used by others - selective networking
¬? Distinguish between soft news and hard news programs
¬? Distinguish the time scale - daily rush or bi-weekly magazine
¬? Use letters to the rural papers - short letters
¬? Hit community radio - rural papers and radio will embarrass a politician far more than the Irish Times
¬? Identify the reference groups - focus on the influencers
¬? Always Irish language versions

Dealing with Journalists
¬? Share our own media contacts
¬? Briefing sessions for journalists - they don't know the context
¬? Use stories exclusively
¬? Personal relationships with journalists are key. Do they prefer fax to email, etc.
¬? Find the right person for a journalist - email appropriate lists and people
¬? Ask journalists for their contacts

¬? The cheapness and penetration of the net is our key weapon
¬? Promote technical literacy -provide site templates for groups - demonstrate and use Yahoo lists and groups
¬? Separate people upload onto their own web space which is then seamlessly linked to the FIE site
¬? Link your PR back to the website for further info
¬? A possible Grand Central Station of sites and newsletters and news lists - might require a single dedicated person
¬? Use and other non commercial outlets - anyone can post
¬? Go around the straight media - make the availability of water tests known on sites so people will take action themselves.
¬? Use the web site to trigger media pick ups
¬? Numbers mean nothing - having the information there for just one person is still a success.
DANGER: limited to the net and the technically literate

Get out of rant mode and cushion the message in the arts - cultivate links - each attendee is to target one artist to ask them to take on board an issue.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
We need media guidelines - PRs, radio interviews - how to do them posted on the FIE website [? Anyone ideas here ?]

Irish Media Contacts Directory This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01 2845892

It is a pity to say that presentations by "us" are non-professional. Some very professional presentations have been made in difficult circumstances, those circumstances being that minimal coverage is given to issues, usually after time has elapsed, and by that time the public are not informed of the background information. Confusion is allowed to reign, etc. etc.

The background information must be given to the people so that the excellent work that activists are doing can be supported. By keeping the issues from everyday conversation, the media are denying issues the popular support, which could be of benefit to the cause. It is easier for the decision-makers to make bad decisions when subjects are kept from the public, or shrouded in mis-information and consequently, misunderstanding. Non-legal heads can do much to popularize the issues.

Likewise, with the arts issue, an approach to artists, etc. could be a means of energizing discussion on environmental issues. There are so many people who support in spirit, but are confused by technicalities. Popularization through the arts, etc. could reach such people and complement rather than "soften" the message. The real message and technical input must not be softened - that's where the essential work is done.

WORKSHOP 2: Access To Information - How To Get It

Where information can be satisfactory got by requesting it from accessible public files or records or an official this should be used as first avenue.
Building up relationships with helpful officials is recommended.

Use of the Act has a number of major disadvantages
This is subject to exemption by a number of public bodies, including NRA, County Managers Association.
There is a time limit in backdated information , depending on the date when the authority in question came under the Act.
There is cost for both the secrching for and the copying of the information
Infomation which is deemed to be accessable in public files or availabe records may not be sought.
Appeals to Freedom of Information Comissioner take time

This is a more targeted and generally more effective means of obtaining information
Application must be in writing and information sought must be on the environment
The only cost incurred is that for copying the information.
Reply must be issued in one month.
A letter threatening court action may be put in after 3 weeks
Authority must state reasons for refusing.
The Regulations allow an Authority to refuse request where there are legal proceedings.
However if refusal of request for this reason is made, details on nature of proceedings should be provided.
It can be argued that an Authority can only legitimately refuse a request when court proceedings are in progress.
The EU commissions is not geared to responding to complaints of non complience with requests. If the Authority fails to reply a court order should be sought and costs recovered.
Preliminary fishing : A good tactic is do preliminary fishing e.g make enquiry for list of unauthorised dumps, before honing in on cases where information is sought.

For applications lodged after March 11th. 2002 , under 2000 Planning and Development Act and 200I Regulations all information including drawings may be purchased at reasonable cost. The first principle in examining any planning planning application is to examine whether the advertised description of the development is accurate and the information contained with the application complies with the EU and national regulations

EIS is required for "any development which is likely to have a significant on the environment" The European directive and case law takes precedence over Irish regulations.
Comment is subject to 20 Euro fee along with all, planning applications lodged after march 11th, despite leter from European Commission statimng that this is breach of public participitation provisions of directive. FIE is co-ordinating campaign of encouraging the writing in of submissions without fee, which will then be rejected by Local Authority, to make EU complaint. The EIS must contail a full description of the project and all adrawings and design specifications. An outline application cannot be subject to an EIS. The EIS must contain all of the data required in the regulations including assement of Alternatives and under all of the defined headings.

Protected Structure is the new term for Listed Buildings. Any development affcting not just the defined structure but also it setting and attendant grounds must be advertised. Applications should include photographs of the building and site and clear drawings showing what is exisitng and what is proposed in alterations, extensions etc.. If there is new development in the grounds of or adjacent to a protected structure its impact must be assessed.
The setting of Protected Structure is now defined as the Curtilage. Development on land not in the control of the owner of a protected structure, but affecting its character or setting is defined as being in the Attendant Grounds. If an application is inadequate in addressing these requirements a reqest for the planning authority so seek the information should be made.

The levying of a planning fee now brings Local Authorities under EU consumner law and law of Contract in the provision of a service. It opens a new avenue of leagl action. The Case of Kenny V AnBP to the effect that the court does not concern itself with planning detail is no longer applicable.

LOCAL AUTHORITY AUDIT ( Government Departments not accessable)
Under Local GovernmentAct 200O all acounts including all receipts and invoices are available for inspection for a two week period during annual audit.

All Local Authority Managers Orders should be available for inspection

This contains provisions on acces to environmnetal justice. It has not been fully implimented

WORKSHOP 3: Using The Political System

Initial questions

Making alliances?
Too close to the Greens - not close enough?
Written parliamentary question - EU + Ireland
How do we monitor Dáil debates and parliamentary questions?


Section 1 How to use the system and not be used by it.

Divide between politics and people

Some elements of the NGO movement have a respect for the divine right of politicians

NGOs will succeed to a point until we hit the barrier of economics and will stop until we can change the economic thinking which isolates itself from the real world.

NGOs failing to work together because seeking advantages in the political system

Government money will split the NGOs - They'll fight each other instead of the government.

Most NGOs are unaware of the opportunities presented by the parliamentary system. Get to know
What retired TDs can do
What sitting TDs can do
Dáil website
Oireachtas reports
Dáil questions
European Parliamentary Questions
Daily Adjournment debates in Dáil.
Private member's bills
See Roger Garland's info sheet dealing with some of the above.

Improvements in access to information, internet etc.

Does lobbying help?

Pre-election questionnaires/letters

Local level politics - can consensus be achieved?

Campaign groups' hatred of County Managers. No-one ever met one they liked.

Value of knowing Co. Co. officials and cllrs. Who is who?

Know the system and the officials

Meeting means personal dialogue. A letter is just paper.

Write a letter. They then have a file.

Get to know a key person

Pretend to be innocent. Simple questions first.

Attend the relevant council meeting

Get a commitment at any meeting with officals/cllrs.

Section 2 The crisis of "democracy"

Cllrs/T.Ds being constrained by system

Electorate depoliticised/individualised*

System limits representation to present generation of human beings

Lack of awareness of place

Shallow political analysis

Media treats it all as entertainment

NGOs need to create a movement for new political structures, not to tinker with them

Short-term and long-term aims

Power shift from elected leaders to unelected

People are using the system better - more aware, more skilled etc. BUT the situation is getting worse much faster
System based on power and interplay between power groups, not on rationality (and power comes from money) *

Is there a single organisation in Ireland critiquing the system?

Key role for environmental movement is to articulate the alternative vision.

Use of keywords such as sustainable development as empty boxes; the new concepts are not being transferred.

NGOs to run candidates in local elections?

Following UK and USA example

WORKSHOP 4: NGO Co-operation and Support - Using the new NGO Funding

*How do we enable more of our voices to be heard? (main issues)
*What do we want to achieve from funding over the next 3 years?
*What is the biggest problem with the major NGOs?
*How do we help?

Who are the NGOs?

-There are several terms:
-Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs)
-Environmental Movement Organisations (EMOs)

-22 Irish ENGOs have been identified/defined by the government to be recipients of a £100,000 (Euro?) grant. This was prompted by international embarrassment

-Major Irish ENGOs that we identified are:
-An Taisce
-Birdwatch Ireland
-Irish Wildlife Trust
-Irish Peatland Conservation Council
-Friends of the Irish Environment

Ways to encourage and support NGO co-operation

-A chat room meeting at a specific time could be a way to encourage co-operation.

-Anti-incineration groups, CAST, and other groups (NIMBY and otherwise) are possible candidates for co-operation.

-The 'Wildlife and Countryside link' is functioning as an ENGO co-operation body in Britain and may be a possible model or source of ideas for us.

-A workshop for IT skills for the NGOs would help them develop skills that would be useful in co-operating.

-Informal networking, joint memberships, etc. is important. Simply promoting and talking up the idea of co-operation in our individual groups and circles can have an impact.

-Support is important as well as co-operation. How can NGOs be helped to do what they are already doing more effectively?

-Appoint a professional and permanent facilitator to work full time on NGO and ENGO co-operation and support.

-Get the main NGOs to apply for CORE funding for 3 year plan for an INDEPENDENT professional facilitator (NON-AFFILIATED TO NGOs. Perhaps from abroad) to begin the process of co-operation and uniting NGOs (both environmental and social issues)

What would 'co-operation' involve? (Possible role for a full-time professional facilitator)

-Encourage and facilitate the exchange of information (e.g. development plan deadlines, media contacts, etc.)

-Identify overlapping areas of interest

-Identify possible areas of common policies (both inter-group policies and potential government policies). Not all NGOs need to agree on all policies.

-NOT forming an umbrella group. Instead support, encourage and facilitate what is already there.

-Run an online chat/conference room

-The EVS - the European Voluntary scheme provides €6,000 per year for non-Irish volunteers under age 26.

The biggest problem with the NGOs is the lack of co-operation

WORKSHOP 5: Strategic Issues In The New Planning Bill

* PARTICIPATION FEE - Campaign Update
* REFERENCES - What Is Development?
* LOCAL & AREA PLANS - How To Maximise Effect
(The text below does not follow the above titles, as the discussion did not
follow any logical structure!)

-There is a 20.00 fee for observations (e.g. submissions, objections) on all
planning applications from now on.
-If you request, you will receive all applications lodged and granted
directly, on a weekly basis.
-Under the new act, you only have four weeks to appeal, but you must have
made an observation on the file or you have no right of appeal.
-If you make an objection, you will now receive a hard copy of the
-You will now be able to request photocopies of drawings for applications
lodged under the new act.
-If you are putting a second application notice on a site, that notice must
be printed on yellow paper.
-The option of advertising a site notice in gaelic has been revised and
under the new act, must be advertised in english.
-The planners report will now have to be present on the file.
-In taking an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, you must include the receipt for
the 20.00 fee paid at objection stage.
-All details (name, address, file no. etc) must be present and have correct
spellings (including signature) on the appeal.
-If any party makes an untrue statement in a public enquiry, they will be
subject to criminal prosecution.
-All applications will have to comply with the Local Area and Co.
Development Plans.
-The new act is structured to speed up the process for the planners and
provide a more complicated obstacle course for the objectors.

Task: To set up a company limited by guarantee, one function of which being
to challenge the constitutionality of the powers granted to the Co.

FIE have lodged a formal complaint to the European Commission over the 20.00 fee in the case of subject to EIA as this is a barrier to public partcipation required by the Directive. The Commission have sought an explanation from Ireland.
Under the new act, you can take action under Section 160 to prevent a
development going ahead.
Section 4 is where councillors with a 75% majority overrule or force the
Co. Managers decision. Under the new act, if the manager rules that a
decision is a material contravention of the Co. Development or Area Plan, it
has to be publicly advertised, which gives the objector a second chance.

-Fees for planning applications should be increased.
-There should be exemptions made for O.A.P's/Unwaged etc. for the 20.00 fee.
(poverty proofing)

WORKSHOP 6: The EPA - What Do We Know About It?



Identify the main issues and threats affecting 'The Sea' around Ireland.
Select and examine those that can be dealt with given the available resources.
Actions - How do we realistically deal with these?
Products - What achievable targets can we set?


'The Sea' means different things to different people. Here, we use the term generally to signify both marine and coastal environments and biodiversity, on the contemporary basis of an ecosystems approach and natural geographical, hydrological and oceanographic units instead of according to administrative or political boundaries, zones or other such artificial division.


There are a great many issues and threats currently affecting Ireland's marine environment, many of which are interconnected and overlapping. The group identified the following main issues that need to be addressed as a matter of priority at national level. These are listed below in alphabetical order:

Amenity and Recreation - Amenity and recreational uses of coastal resources include tourism, bathing, coastal walking, birdwatching, whale, dolphin and seal watching, visiting protected landscapes, shore and boat-based sea angling, sailing, sail-boarding, surfing, scuba diving, cliff climbing, adventure sports, etc. Together they constitute a significant socio-economic activity. The principal issues include:

Conflicting uses of the same resources and areas.
Lack of co-ordinated policy (see Institutional Problems).
Ineffective (or non-existent) coastal resource management plans.
Ineffective protection of protected species, habitats and landscapes in coastal zone.
Development pressure in and near certain seaside resorts, including from infrastructure provision and tax-driven holiday housing, hotels and golf courses on or near unsuitable sites, resulting in deterioration and loss of coastal habitats (see Coastal Development).
Lack of public education, information and guidance.
'Sustainable' tourism theory has yet to be put into practice.
Inadequate or excessive public access to beaches, coastal land and walking paths (e.g. Cliffs of Moher and the 'privatisation' of the former publicly accessible Old Head of Kinsale by a golf club).
Bathing water quality.
Beach and waterborne litter, including hazardous items such as broken glass.
Impacts of recreational activities include:
Physical disturbance (e.g. beach visitors trampling bird nesting sites and rare sand dune flowers).
Noise disturbance ('acoustic pollution').
Proximity disturbance (e.g. tourist boats approaching dolphins too closely, jet skis driving through sensitive areas such as bird breeding and feeding sites).
Collision by boats and jet skis with marine mammals, people, etc.
Swimming with wild dolphins - Despite "Fungi", there are significant risks, including disturbance to wild animals, transfer of pathogens and even drowning.

Aquaculture - Finfish and shellfish aquaculture operations located in both marine waters and the coastal zone have become an increasingly significant socio-economic activity for marginalized coastal communities. However:

Licensing of operations is generally conducted without adequate (if any) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of individual developments, and without any Strategic Environmental Assessment of regional scale development and the industry as a whole.
Licensing of new permanent finfish installations above a size threshold is subject to mandatory EIA, but 'temporary' installations for testing site-suitability are not.
Shellfish aquaculture operations are usually exempt from any EIA requirement.
The Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board has never (to our knowledge) refused a licence on appeal.
Impacts of aquaculture include:
Introduction and spread of pathogens and parasites to wild populations.
Usage of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, including residues in human food chain.
Escapees and subsequent genetic pollution of wild populations.
Introduction of non-indigenous species into coastal waters.
Localised water quality deterioration resulting from fish wastes.

Biodiversity and the Protection of Species and Habitats - Of the numerous interlinked issues and sub-issues relating to biodiversity, the following are considered especially critical:

The Government has yet to properly begin to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity in accordance with its international obligations under the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity and its mechanisms, including the 1995 Jakarta Mandate declaration of Ministerial policy.
The Government's failure so far to implement a National Biodiversity Plan, plus the inevitable inadequacies of the forthcoming Plan in relation to marine and coastal biodiversity.
The lack of co-ordinated policy and management concerning nature conservation areas in Ireland in general - the marine environment being no exception.
The intrinsic inadequacies of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (DAHGI), including its woeful neglect of the marine environment.
The continued refusal of Government (as espoused in particular by DAHGI) to implement EU Birds and Habitats Directives to the full Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) out to 200 nautical miles (350 nm in certain continental shelf areas) claimed by Ireland (i.e. Ireland currently only applies the Directives to its territorial waters, which extend to 12 nm offshore).
The Government's lamentable "close your eyes and hope it goes away" approach to the 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, in general, and efforts by the OSPAR Commission to implement a co-ordinated NE Atlantic network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), in particular. (Note: In conjunction with other international organisations such as the European Commission and ICES, which provides technical advice on fisheries resources, OSPAR is steering international efforts concerning marine and coastal biodiversity towards a biogeographic region or ecosystem approach, and away from the historical management of marine resources according to geopolitical boundaries imposed on sea areas by nation States. The Irish Government has yet to come to terms with this paradigm shift.)
Ireland has yet to formally designate any exclusively marine area as a MPA within its extensive EEZ. At present all SPAs, SACs, Natural Heritage Areas, National Nature Reserves, Refuges for Fauna, Ramsar sites etc. that are billed as having extensive 'marine' components are little other than convenient seaward extensions of coastal designated areas.
Even so, there remains a lack of designated nature conservation areas within the coastal zone. In many cases only 'best examples' have been picked, regardless of scientific and ecological rationale, which usually requires a series of contiguous areas rather than 'islands'.
Whereas internationally important seabird breeding colonies (e.g. Skelligs, Cliffs of Moher) are generally protected, their associated and equally important offshore seabird feeding and moulting areas are not.
The Government has so far failed to designate adequate (or in some cases any) marine SACs for Annex-listed species and habitats, as is required under the Habitats Directive.
The size and extent of any future designated MPA is likely to be an issue. Any 'token gestures' will be next to useless. Management Plans are likely to be biased towards fisheries interests.
Ireland could derive significant benefits from implementing a network of National Marine Nature Reserves (along similar lines to the USA model), including from marine related tourism, education and scientific research, plus fee-based scuba diving, etc.

Climate Change - This is a global issue with serious repercussions for Ireland and the marine environment, including:

Effects on the coastline resulting from sea level rise, altered patterns of coastal erosion and sedimentation (particularly increased erosion) and disappearance of natural sea defences such as wetlands, leading to flooding.
Raised water tables, and increased river discharge and land run-off volumes carrying increased loads of nutrients, sewage and slurry pathogens, leachates from landfills and other waste sites, urban area surface drainage etc., will exacerbate problems in coastal waters such as eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, waterborne pathogens, and increased turbidity.
Changes in sea conditions - already observed and forecast to increase - include:
Increased average wave height.
Increased frequency and magnitude of storm events.
Disruption of North Atlantic Ocean circulation mechanism (warmer waters or icebergs?).
Alteration of seasonal stratification of coastal waters.
Consequent disruption of ocean primary productivity zones and the marine food web, migration corridors, shipping lanes, fisheries activities, etc.
"King Canute buries his head in the sand!" The Government not only lacks adequate plans and funding to mitigate the effects of climate change on the coastal zone, it appears to be going even further into 'denial' regarding the inevitable consequences (abandonment of land, relocation of families and communities, compensation…).

Coastal Development - Over half of Ireland's population lives within the coastal zone. Consequently, issues include:

Growing land use pressure resulting from the level and scale of developments taking place, including land reclamation and construction of housing, hotels, tourism facilities, car parks, marinas, port facilities and general infrastructure, plus agriculture, energy generation (e.g. wind farms) and other industrial developments.
Increased sewage discharges and contaminated surface-water run-off from urban and agricultural land either directly or indirectly into the marine environment.
The urban and rural planning system, which fails to pay adequate attention to effects of coastal developments on the marine environment.
Lack of adequate EIA and any Strategic Environmental Assessment regarding direct and indirect impacts of developments on the marine environment.
Illegal and unsustainable removal of beach materials (sand and gravel) and seabed aggregates for use in construction and for agriculture (see Marine Aggregates Extraction). The primary effect of such removal is to cause a reduction in the level of the beach, which may accentuate erosion of the coast and flooding, particularly during subsequent peak tidal and storm conditions.
Potential location of new, and expansion of existing, coastal quarries.

Commitment and Hypocrisy - Is the Irish Government really committed to international conventions and other agreements concerning the protection of the marine environment?

Apart from the Sellafield issue, there is no enthusiasm for the OSPAR mechanism or any effective, co-ordinated involvement by Ireland in OSPAR's working groups. Yet there is sufficient wealth stored in the State's exchequer to fund proper, consistent representation and constructive participation.
Ireland is also a 'quiet' member of other important international fora such as ICES (North Atlantic living marine resources and oceanographic research organisation). Yet, Ireland recently led a charge at the International Whaling Commission aimed at lifting the moratorium on commercial whaling for the benefit of the Japanese and Norwegian fishing-whaling industries. This may be viewed as somewhat hypocritical, especially given that Ireland has declared its entire EEZ a whale and dolphin sanctuary!

EIA and SEA - The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is used to react to development proposals for individual projects. Points worth noting include:

Even when they are undertaken, project EIAs are very often inadequate - especially in relation to offshore development. They have no pre-emptive role in steering development away from environmentally sensitive areas; they do not adequately consider cumulative impacts caused by several projects, or possibly even a project's sub-components or ancillary developments; they cannot fully address alternative developments or mitigation measures.
These and other inadequacies are best dealt with at more strategic stages of the development process in the form of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
Whether it be fisheries, tourism, offshore oil & gas - at present there is no application of SEA to any sectoral marine and coastal industrial development activity.

Environmental Protection Agency - Irrespective of other problems and weaknesses besetting the agency, there is an apparent 'reluctance' by Government to have the EPA exercise its stated powers and perform its stated functions throughout the full extent of Ireland's EEZ.

Fisheries - In terms of threats to biodiversity and socio-economic importance to the Irish State and marginalized coastal communities, fisheries related issues are probably the most pressing:

Overfishing, i.e. unsustainable fishing effort for fish and crustaceans (e.g. crabs).
Overcapacity in the Irish/EU fishing fleets (including the issue of 'supertrawlers' vs. small-scale coastal vessels).
Bycatch, i.e. the entrapment or entanglement in nets and other fishing gear of non-target species - marine turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, basking sharks and other fishes - and certain key age classes (juveniles and mature breeding adults) of commercial fish stocks.
Damage to sensitive (particular seabed) habitats by certain fishing gear and methods.
Deep-sea fishing. Very little is understood about deep-sea ecology and species. Irreversible damage may be done before international bodies such as ICES and OSPAR have devised relevant management advice, and before the EU has imposed scientifically rigorous catch regulations, quotas and protected areas. Concern is also growing about deep-sea byctach levels and damage to sensitive seabed habitats such as coldwater coral reefs recently 'discovered' along Ireland's Atlantic seaboard.
Unsustainable 'fisheries colonialism' by Irish/EU vessels in waters off many least developed countries in Africa and elsewhere, conducted through near-worthless agreements that lack any responsibility for protecting fish stocks and the livelihoods and protein supplies (human rights) of artisanal fisherfolk and coastal communities.
The EU's instrument for the management of fisheries and aquaculture - the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - has been a conservation disaster. The CFP is undergoing its second review during 2002 and, although it is now too late to have any realistic input into the process, it is vital that the result is scrutinized and its implementation monitored in the context of Ireland.

Hazardous Substances - A great many chemical substances (such as crude oil and refined products, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, endocrine disrupters such as tributyltin antifouling agent, polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, and various metallic contaminants, for example) are known to have significant negative impacts on marine and coastal species, including humans, depending on the species involved, the toxicology of the substance, its persistence in the environment, potential for bioaccumulation, and so forth. Ireland may be a relatively small producer and emitter into the marine environment of such pollutants, but any contribution to the overall cumulative and synergistic complex affecting the NE Atlantic is significant and requires vigilance (regarding compliance with EU and OSPAR regulations, for example).

ICRM and ICZM - By definition, the terms Integrated Coastal Resource Management (ICRM) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) encompass a multiplicity of issues. Points noted include:

Despite common usage of these terms, from an environmental and ecological perspective the term 'coastal zone' is worth avoiding because of the difficulty in defining such a zone, and the many definitions that already exist (see the attached Addendum regarding ICRM/ICZM by Jack O'Sullivan).
The Government's failure so far to develop ('as a priority') and implement a 'modern and streamlined' integrated 'legislative and planning framework' for coastal zone and natural resources management.
The lack of 'integrated' in ICRM and ICZM.
Institutional problems, particularly the "who's in charge?" factor, i.e. competing jurisdictions between the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources and other Departments, local authorities and State bodies.
The demise of the Harbour Boards and de facto privatisation of ports and harbours.

Institutional Problems - Many of the problems discussed here stem from the current governmental policy framework and arrangements for the management of the various marine sectors. These institutional problems include:

Governance is spread across several Government Departments - particularly Marine and Natural Resources (DMNR); Environment and Local Government (DOELG); and Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (DAHGI); but also Defence; Health and Children; Agriculture, Food and Rural Development; Public Enterprise; Tourism, Sport and Recreation; Attorney General's Office and Chief State Solicitor's Office - and between local authorities and State agencies, including county councils, fisheries boards, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each organisation follows a different set of priorities.
There are significant conflicts of interest 1) within the DMNR between its dual roles as licensor of marine and coastal industrial development activities and protector of the marine environment (i.e. it is poacher and gamekeeper), and 2) between the DMNR and DOELG, DAHGI and other Departments because of competing jurisdictions.
Development interests "rule the roost" at the DMNR. Whereas developers conduct effective lobbying, public and environmental NGO voices are seldom heard (i.e. they are disenfranchised by the lack of an appropriate consultation mechanism).
"Passing the buck" between DMNR, DOELG and DAHGI is normal procedure. It can take weeks or months to pin anyone down into providing an answer to even simple questions and requests for information. Use of the Freedom of Information Act is limited by both loopholes and cost.
There is an overall lack of 1) strategic cooperation in management between Departments and authorities and 2) a properly resourced, cohesive policy framework (i.e. joined-up, 'integrated' thinking in Government with regard to the marine environment). This results in each sectoral issue being considered separately, failure to provide guidance to those with marine-related responsibilities and duties, the dispersion of accountability for marine environmental protection, and no effective system for protecting and managing features and sites of national ecological and cultural importance.
There is no unified planning system to set standards and enable strategic decision-making and consultation in relation to marine sectoral issues.
What legislation there is has been built up in piecemeal fashion, resulting in a legislative maze which would be most appropriately remedied through adoption of a dedicated 'Marine Environment Protection Act' or 'Oceans Act' (along lines of those now adopted in Canada, USA and Australia, and forthcoming in New Zealand) that draws together and modernises relevant parts of existing legislation as well as introduces new legislation to bring Ireland fully into line with the OSPAR Convention, EU Directives, Biodiversity Convention, UN Law of the Sea, and all other relevant international agreements.

Litter - Litter and other persistent debris emanating from coastal sources (inc. landfill sites, urban centres, tourist beaches) and marine sources (inc. merchant shipping, fishing vessels, recreational craft and aquaculture operations) is much more than an aesthetic issue. Marine debris may kill, disable or otherwise harm fish, turtles, seabirds or marine mammals, variously through ingestion (of plastic bags, condoms, plastic granules, etc.) or ensnarement (in plastic rings for holding packs of cans, pieces of fishing net, etc.). Beaches may become hazardous to bathers and other visitors as a result of washed-up and discarded packaged chemicals, medicines, broken glass, and old munitions from sea dumping sites.

Marine Aggregates Extraction - The removal of seabed sediments - sand and gravel for construction, and ma?´rl (calcareous algae) for horticultural soil conditioning -results in significant impacts to seabed habitats and biodiversity. Forecast increases in the demand for marine aggregates make this a rising issue in Ireland.

Maritime Transport - There is a multiplicity of issues involving merchant vessels, which are mainly dealt with under MARPOL 73/78 and other Conventions administered by the International Maritime Organisation, including:

Discharge of ships' ballast water containing non-indigenous species.
Discharge of wastes such as oil and garbage at sea, and the current lack of port reception facilities for such wastes.
Use of hazardous substances in antifouling coatings (TBT is being phased-out).
Safe transport of hazardous bulk and packaged cargoes, including crude oil, refined oil and gas, chemicals and other noxious substances.
Accidents and loss of vessels, fuel oil and hazardous cargo, plus contingency planning, preparedness and response.
Port State and Coastal State jurisdiction over vessels calling at a country's ports or passing through a country's EEZ and territorial waters (the right of innocent passage is enshrined in the UN Law of the Sea, but coastal states have very significant powers to board, inspect and act against a vessel which is or may be a source of pollution or other danger to the coast or coastal waters).
Flags of convenience, vessel seaworthiness, seafarer training and labour protection laws.
Submarine acoustic pollution from maritime traffic, particularly in congested shipping lanes and ferry routes.
New generation of high-speed, turbine powered transatlantic cargo vessels (acoustic disturbance and collision risk to whales).

Although the situation regarding maritime transport and safety is now much improved, the Government is not as forthright is it could be in addressing many of these issues.

Offshore Development - Without proper Strategic Environmental Assessments, piecemeal project developments taking place within Ireland's EEZ may add up to produce significant cumulative industrialisation of Ireland's offshore. Contributors include:

Offshore oil & gas developments, including the Corrib gas field off Mayo, Helvick oil field in the Celtic Sea, and forecast deepwater Atlantic fields located in extreme operating environments up to 350 nautical miles offshore, plus numerous seismic surveys, which if ill-timed (such as during vulnerable breeding stages of fish, or during whale migrations) are likely to have significant impacts.
Offshore wind farm and other renewable energy developments, including Kish Bank and Arklow Bank, especially before international (i.e. OSPAR) 'good practice' guidelines have been established.
Seabed pipeline and cable placement.
(Proposed) seabed mineral extraction, such as deep-sea metalliferous ore deposits.

Numerous problems exist with regard to project EIA for offshore developments:

The offshore oil & gas exploration phase, including seismic surveying and well-drilling, is not subject to mandatory EIA requirement, despite known significant impacts.
Even though both an offshore oil & gas production platform and the onshore terminal to receive its products each require separate Environmental Impact Statements, the overall linkage and broader impact are 'strategically' overlooked.
At present in Ireland, an offshore wind farm (even a supermarket!) is subject to a greater EIA requirement and planning scrutiny than an offshore oil & gas platform.

Many offshore developments have associated onshore development phases, including harbour developments, construction sites for offshore apparatus, coastal sites for receiving oil & gas such as the proposed gas hydrate terminal near Glenamoy, Co. Mayo (landfall for the Corrib field subsea pipeline), etc.

Precautionary Principle - Supposedly a central tenet of all governance and environmental policy, the "PP" is virtually absent right across the board in Ireland in terms of policy, sectoral strategy, management planning, EIA, etc. Priority is nearly always given to economic development considerations even when reasonable doubts exist regarding the potential impacts.

Radioactivity and Sellafield - Despite the Government's laudable efforts to force the closure of the BNFL Sellafield plant by seeking recourse through the OSPAR Commission and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the UK Government is highly unlikely to hasten closure. Even if or when it does, the huge repository of radioactive waste stored at Sellafield (and, possibly in future, in the rock strata of the Cumbria massif) will require the Irish Government to commit itself to participating in long-term international monitoring and management efforts. Ireland's stance could be applied more effectively at NE Atlantic and global levels.

Sustainable Development - Another supposedly central tenet of all governance. Lip service is paid to 'sustainable'. In Ireland it is sadly a term misappropriated by developers and authorities alike to justify 'business as usual'.

Water Quality - A term covering a number of issues affecting coastal waters and the wider marine environment, which when taken collectively are significant:

Much of Ireland's population lives in the coastal margin.
Inadequately treated sewage discharges, industrial effluent disposal, and land run-off of farm slurry and silage cause enrichment of organic matter and nutrients in estuaries and other coastal waters, which may lead to eutrophication (raised levels of biological growth, usually by algae and bacteria), proliferation of harmful algal blooms (some producing biotoxins that may result in closure of bathing waters and suspension of shellfish harvesting), deoxygenation, microbiological contamination (pathogens), and increased turbidity.
Water quality with regard to bathing beaches, coastal fisheries and aquaculture, abstraction for drinking and irrigation, watershed, lake and river basin management, etc. is now subject to the EU Water Framework Directive. The unified principles behind this operational tool of a new European Water Policy require some updating of the way in which we look at water quality issues, based on a more holistic approach at EU level. This also has bearing on making more effective recourse to the EU (lodging formal complaints to the European Commission, for example).

Other issues raised by the group during the discussion included:

OSPAR, the European Commission, and Ireland - It is important to note that:

In addition to nation States such as Ireland and Norway, the European Commission is a Contracting Party to the OSPAR Convention - the European Commission is also a highly organised, motivated and effective participant (unlike the Irish Government).
The European Commission works hard to implement OSPAR policy, decisions and other agreements at EU regional level; conversely, the OSPAR Commission undertakes increasing degrees of co-operation with the European Commission. This healthy relationship is likely to continue.
Ireland is seen as the "weak link in the chain" of marine environment policy built by both OSPAR and the European Commission (i.e. they have a keen vested interested in making and keeping it strong). Other OSPAR Contracting Parties are (privately) concerned that Ireland is letting the side down - that the Government's lack of interest and competence will reflect badly on the collective whole. Due to the OSPAR-European Commission relationship, this also has ramifications at EU level.
The Irish Government's role in other environmental fora, such as UNEP and the Biodiversity Convention, is also subject to increasing scrutiny and private expressions of discontent.
Consequently, there may be considerable scope for enlisting unprecedented levels of help - probably in a more covert than overt fashion - from OSPAR, the European Commission, UNEP and others (such as the Norwegian and Netherlands Governments, who take OSPAR very seriously indeed) to "assist" the Irish Government to improve its efforts to protect the marine environment.

Irish Sea Convention - Following parliamentary devolution in the UK, there is need for improved regional co-operation regarding management of the Irish Sea involving the Governments and Executives of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales and England. Points noted include:

Improved regional co-operation could be accomplished through an Irish Sea Convention administered by an Irish Sea Commission along the lines of the highly workable and successful Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), which brings together all the States around the Baltic Sea plus the European Commission, and administers the Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area.
However, from a strategic perspective, such a new Convention and Commission may be undesirable as it could serve to 1) dilute overall North-East Atlantic regional effort through the OSPAR mechanism (which should be recognised as the overarching body with responsibility for regional marine environment protection), and/or 2) provide a convenient political and bureaucratic 'stalling device' (i.e. it could conceivably make it easier for Governments and Executives to delay EU and OSPAR efforts to manage and protect the Irish Sea).
Existing international conventions and agreements should be implemented fully - and looked at more creatively regarding the possibilities they afford - toward the protection of the Irish Sea. (A useful discussion of such possibilities is contained in "The Four Corners - Options and Models for Managing the Irish Sea", a Paper presented to the Conference on Managing the Irish Sea, organised by Dublin Corporation and the Institute of Public Administration, The Rotunda, Dublin, 25-26 November 1988).

Inspire and Educate - In Ireland, there is great need to both inspire people about "The Sea" and undertake "back to basics" marine environmental education at all levels within society:

In general, the Irish people do not "see" the sea, i.e. there is a lack of marine awareness in the educational, political and business communities - a somewhat surprising state of affairs given that:
More than half the population resides within 10 km of the coast.
There are nearly 20 inhabited offshore islands.
The length of Ireland's coastline is about 7,500 km.
As the Irish Marine Institute has put it: '90 per cent of Ireland is undiscovered, undeveloped, underwater!'
The sea and coasts have great value in both ecological and socio-economic terms.
Sustainable marine tourism - and through that, marine education - has great potential and significant economic appeal, and could benefit marginalized coastal communities particularly as cutbacks in fisheries and other industries are nowadays always on the horizon.
We need a vision - of how we see the marine environment, and why and how we should protect it - that inspires people and gives foundation to our calls for realistic changes to be implemented at political, institutional and industry level.
The UK Wildlife and Countryside Link, a collective voice for 28 UK environmental NGOs, have recently issued a Marine Charter comprising a vision document calling for reform of how UK seas are managed and protected.


The sheer number and scale of the issues and threats facing the marine and coastal environment is overwhelming, particularly given the limited resources (time, money and persons) available to help us tackle them.
At present, in Ireland in general, environmental NGOs and individuals can do little other than react to development proposals and tackle issues on a piecemeal basis at individual project level.
The overall state of affairs in Ireland regarding policy, management and protection of 'The Sea' is an utter mess. If we could, we would wipe the slate clean and start again, rebuilding a rational, cohesive, holistic policy framework. (Note: This does not necessarily require drastic revision by Government of existing Departmental administrative frameworks).
The Government will not do the job for us. It is up to us, as environmentalists, to undertake a constructive review of the DMNR, DOELG and DAHGI, and others with remits and responsibilities relevant to marine environmental protection. It is up to us to provide vision and push for change.


Taking into consideration all of the above, there was consensus that the best (i.e. most realistic) way forward would be for FIE to:

Devise a policy regarding 'The Sea'. It should contain our vision concerning the marine and coastal environment, and function as a strategic framework to help us deal with these and other issues in a logical, consistent and workable fashion.
Establish an informal working group of interested parties to develop this policy plus any supporting documents, and discuss and advise on strategy, and make progress in addressing these issues and threats.


[WORKSHOP 8: Public Transport or Motorways]
WORKSHOP 9: Cultural Change And Paradign Shift

Cultural Norms: Where does change happen?

-Education in the classroom
-Computers - change of curriculum
-Why should we load change (and responsibility) onto disadvantaged people and the young? Don't load all the problems on to the kids
-The adults, especially middle class adults cannot abdicate their role in change

Create 'liberated Zones' (economic, social, political and cultural spaces outside the logic and control of the present economic system)

'Liberated Zones' are the seed beds for change
'Liberated Zones' should be individual, local and global
Learn through living
-Develop and use independent economic systems
-Learn by doing
-We should empower ourselves through trading and business among ourselves and not be dependant on the state.
-Start building alternatives (without a master plan)
-Build and propagate self reliance models
-We must be able to identify each other
-Change our media of interaction - especially money
-To embody the change we want through optimism and fun

Independent information
-Talented amaturers
-Free thinkers
-Communal thinking and living

Passive recievers

How to shift the dominant culture or challenge it from within?

Planning/development/system/media - we do not have complete choice

Ability to question?
-We are taught to fit into the system

How do we move from a base of protecting the environment to changing the dominant cultures and/or bringing our ideas to them?

-Any and every voice is important
-Take responsibility

We operate on a basis of loss (we're stuck in a linear model). We need to just be.

Make it easy
The raising of awareness is vitally important
Earth is an absolute, not a relative truth
Use of computers/Internet can be revolutionary
There is a certainty (or at least a risk) of the collapse of the current system. We must prepare for it.
Think global, act local
See for ideas on subverting the dominant cultural paradigm.
Change our OWN thinking
Relativise and recontextualise the dominant culture

The biggest problem with the Irish environmental movement is that it is often not very fun. If it is to grow and spread it has to be fun!

[WORKSHOP 10: Agenda 21 - Exposing The Non-Action]

WORKSHOP 11: Making More Effective Recourse To The EU


1. What options are available to enable us to more effectively make complaints to EU institutions such as the European Commission and European Parliament?
2. Is there need for a national co-ordinator for complaints to the EU?
3. Do we have any friends within the European Commission?
4. What realistic approach can we take?


During the discussion, the following points were identified as being the main issues with regard to more effectively making complaints to the various EU institutions:

¬? Although the EC does not necessarily respond to correspondence, it does have a duty to respond to complaints.

¬? The formal complaint mechanism begins with the formulation of the complaint, followed by submission of the complaint to the European Commission (EC), then its examination by the EC which then transmits the complaint to the Irish Government, consideration by the EC of whatever response is received from the Irish Government, subsequent correspondence with the Irish Government, and further steps taken by EC if the Government fails to respond or to put right the matters complained of. It is a complex and lengthy but very fair procedure; and, if the Government's response is inadequate, may go as far as the European Court.

¬? Environmentalists, though aware of the basics, may find the formal complaints mechanism confusing and may be unsure of how best to enlist relevant expertise.

¬? Details of how to go about making a complaint to the Commission are given in the Europe Direct website or via the Europe Direct freephone 1800 55 31 88. The European Parliament's website is and information can also be found on

¬? Nevertheless, there is need for a simple, visual but comprehensive overview of the mechanism. This could be accomplished in the form of a flow chart with explanation, distributed via FIE's website.

¬? The petitioning procedure to the European Parliament is not well known. There is need for some information and guidance on this, plus a simple, visual overview should also be made available via FIE's website.

¬? There is need for examples/guidelines concerning what constitutes 'good practice' when it comes to drawing-up and lodging a complaint or petition.

¬? More effective use can and should be made of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). It should be appreciated that this requires a long-term approach and comprehensive advance preparation.

¬? Do we have any 'friends' within the EC, European Parliament or other EU institutions? Yes, particularly Liam Cashman in DG Environment. There is need for a list of friends and contacts at EU level. Can we make better use of Liam Cashman and other Irish contacts at EU level, such as Pat Cox, leader of the European Parliament? Yes, but there should be caution - too many requests for assistance, from too many quarters, is likely to be counterproductive and lose their goodwill. This ties in with the question of whether there should be an identified national co-ordinator to act as the main point-of-contact with Liam Cashman and others. What happens when posts change and such friends as Liam Cashman move on? How do we engender continuity?

¬? In general in Ireland, the institutional process of effecting legislative change and regulatory implementation in relation to the environment is intrinsically slow. Are there any effective means to speed-up the process, by requesting pressure from the EC perhaps, or from other intergovernmental geopolitical and convention related bodies?

¬? Is there need for improved co-ordination regarding complaints? Yes, but how do we go about it? We can talk to Liam Cashman and other 'friends' at EU level, and ask for their input. We should, however, avoid attempting to create another layer of bureaucracy here in Ireland. We should assemble a 'package' to assist would be complainants - one that exploits the benefits of information and communication technologies, including website access, to the full. We also need to be aware of other complainants and complaints in the pipeline, plus progress (not) being made in dealing with them. We should look at ways of finding necessary and relevant information from, for instance, EC and European Parliament sources, including websites. It is known that Patricia McKenna MEP has a list of complaints in progress, which we may be able to obtain and use.

¬? The overall issue of access to information (documents, reasoned opinions, etc.) was highlighted as being critical to making more effective recourse in general. Access could be improved, for example, by making better use of the EC's and European Parliament's offices in Dublin, as well as the relevant EU institution websites (see above).

¬? More imagination is needed when determining tactical approaches toward seeking recourse. In addition to 'environment', so-far under-utilised and alternative angles can and should be exploited fully as legitimate means of seeking recourse. These include EU consumer protection and competition legislation.

¬? Another angle would be to improve our access to information regarding EU funding of programmes (the funding of individual projects being a national responsibility) that when channelled into projects undertaken in Ireland are environmentally and socially negative in effect. We might be able to use such information at EU level to leverage changes to individual projects at national level.

Given the consensus regarding the need for improved co-ordination, the group then discussed the need for a national co-ordinator for complaints to the EU:

¬? Do we need a national co-ordinator? Yes, but on the understanding that complaints cannot and should not be 'co-ordinated' centrally. Therefore it is not a 'co-ordinator' we need, rather a complaints 'advisor' to act as point-of-contact for would be complainants seeking advice and other assistance.

¬? Who should be the advisor? There was consensus that Tony Lowes would be ideal, but it was duly noted that he is already overstretched. As a solution it was suggested that the primary function of the advisor should be to delegate responsibility by putting the enquirer in touch with the relevant contacts, legal experts or other resources, at national or EU level as appropriate.

¬? The group decided that the most realistic approach would be to steer enquirers through a dedicated website or web page (the first port of call), then through a real person point-of-contact (the advisor), who will then delegate as outlined above.

¬? There was consensus that FIE should provide a section on its website (or at least a well-signposted link to an external website) to act as a resource for holding various relevant elements such as overviews, guidelines, contact details, website links, etc.


1. Provide the Necessary Resources - Start a new section of the FIE website to act as first port of call for would be complainants and other enquirers. Use it to hold resources, including overviews of available recourse options, examples of 'good practice' plus guidelines, a list of useful contacts, and a links page to external resources such as the EU (Europa) website, and other relevant sites.

2. Provide a Contact Point - Designate a complaints 'advisor' to act as the main point-of-contact after enquirers have first gone to/through the website section.

3. Delegate - The advisor should then delegate responsibility and workload by putting the enquirer in touch with the relevant contacts, experts or other resources.

4. Build-up Resources - For it to prove useful as a tool for those seeking recourse, the dedicated website section should be an evolving source of information. It should be used to hold (or link to) relevant documents, case reports, complainants' experiences, advice notes, guidelines, etc. as and when they become available.


WORKSHOP 12: WSSD - Jo'burg - Earth Summit RIO + 10

World Summit on Sustainable Development

Agreement at Rio 10 years ago = Agenda 21
Ket issues: Biodiversity, climate change, and forests
Johannesburg WSSD will assess progres