Simon Coveney, TD,
Minister for Agriculture, Marine, and Natural Resources,
29 September, 2012
In the course of examining the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board decision of 25 September, 2012, to refuse permission for the cultivation of mussels in Dunmanus Bay, County Cork, we are greatly concerned to find that the Board has breached Article 7 of the Access to Information on the Environment legislation.
Article 7: Dissemination of environmental information
1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that public authorities organise the environmental information which is relevant to their functions and which is held by or for them, with a view to its active and systematic dissemination to the public, in particular by means of computer telecommunication and/or electronic technology, where available. [Directive 2003/4/EC]
In this case, the Board’s website appears to have ceased functional operation in 2006, the year of the last available Annual Reports or of any determinations by the Board. Even the members of the Board are out of date.
You will be aware that planning decisions on land taken under the legal aegis of the Minister for the Environment may be appealed to An Bord Plenala. Their website gives the current status of every appeal, every determination, and every Inspector’s or technical expert’s report. A search engine allows members of the public to identify any cases in their own geographical area or on any given subject.
We would urge you to ensure that the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board meets the requirement of the Directive and provides the public with all the information relevant to any case in a timely and transparent manner, particularly in view of the proposed expansion of this industry by your Department and its Agencies.