Re: Complaint P2002/5087
Environmental Impact Assessment undertaken for the M50 motorway project with regard to Carrickmines Castle.
Mr. Tony Lowes,
Friends of the Irish Environment,
14 June, 2004
Re: Complaint P2002/5087
Environmental Impact Assessment undertaken for the M50 motorway project with regard to Carrickmines Castle
Dear Mr. Lowes
The investigation into your complaint has now concluded and it is proposed to ask the Commission to close the file rather than start an infringement proceeding.
It is ultimately a matter for the Court of Justice rather than the Commission to determine whether EU rules have been breached. The burden of proof lies with the Commission if it chooses to bring a case before the Court and the Court's recent decision in Case C117/02, Commission vs. Portugal, illustrates the potential difficulties of demonstrating that EIA requirements have not been met. In the case of Carrickmines, an EIA was undertaken which included detailed archaeological studies, and it is not evident that the Commission would be in a position to convince the Court that the quality of the EIA was manifestly deficient.
Nonetheless, as you are aware, the Kampsax Report obtained by the Commission identified a number of weak aspects in the EIA. Based on this report and overall investigations, my services have suggested to the Irish authorities that a number of useful lessons might be drawn from the Carrickmines experience.
First of all it is important that archaeological investigations should address historical landscapes and should include adequate consultation of documentary records, including maps.
Secondly, where a project involves possible multiple archaeological impacts, there should be an assessment of the relative significance of the sites affected so that the decision makers are altered to likely 'hot spots'.
Thirdly it is desirable to incorporate from the outset an adequate risk/management/contingency approach to such impacts including, where appropriate, provisions for further proactive assessments, such as trial trenching, to reduce uncertainties and tests assumptions and to ensure design flexibility.
Fourthly it is desirable that there should be the fullest possible involvement of the wider archaeological community in the EIA procedures, facilitated, for example, by internet access to environmental impact assessments.
Fifthly, it is important that environmental impact statements formally incorporate the detailed archaeological studies relied upon.
If you have any detailed comments on the proposal to close the complaint file, I would be very grateful if you would forward them within one month of date of this letter.