What is the difference between an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and an Environmental Impact Statement?
An EIA is a checklist review that has to accompany an aquaculture application to determine whether a thorough EIA has to take place before an application is granted.
For years, the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) has performed EIS checklists that stated that no EIA was required for aquaculture applications. They’ve now set this in stone by doing away with the EIS process entirely, even for areas that are environmentally sensitive and protected by the Natura 2000 designations.
This has implications for all of Ireland!
This is a dangerous precedent, that if allowed to go unchallenged, will mean that the onus will be on communities to prove that delicate marine and terrestrial environments protected by SAC/SPA/Natura 2000/Ramsar designations are not suitable for intensive aquaculture. Applicants and the DAFM will not have to perform an EIA, and therefore, not EIS, and the environmental impact of an aquaculture development will not be measured!
This also means that no mitigation factors can be implemented, since the impact will not have been addressed or even considered.
Do you agree with this?
If not, then take action and write to your local politicians and national representatives. Demand answers as to why DAFM is allowed to do this.
DAFM’s claim – June 2018
This is the Department’s answer to why they waived the requirement for an Environment Impact Assessment for 102 aquaculture applications in environmentally protected Natura 2000 Castlemaine Harbour SAC and SPA!
“The Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.
The consolidated EIA Directive (2011/92/EU as amended by 2014/52/EU) subdivides projects which may require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) into Annex I projects (which must undergo an EIA and thereafter furnish an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)) and Annex II projects (which may have to undergo EIA/EIAR). ‘Extensive’ aquaculture does not fall under either Annex I or Annex II of the Directive.
There are detailed explanatory guidelines from the EU Commission as to whether or not ‘extensive’ aquaculture needs an EIA or EIAR under the consolidated EIA Directive (i.e.“Interpretation of Definitions of Project Categories of Annex I and II of the EIA Directive, 2015” and “Guidance on Aquaculture and Natura 2000 – Sustainable aquaculture activities in the context of the Natura 2000 Network, 2012”).
The EU regards aquaculture as ‘extensive’ where “there is no external supply of feed or medicine and this type of culture depends entirely on natural processes for production and supply of feed”. Accordingly, the Department does not apply the EIA screening process in the case of ‘extensive’ aquaculture.
The Department’s technical and scientific advisors assess aquaculture licence applications comprehensively in the normal course. Additional information can be requested by the Department as necessary from the applicant should an application be deemed to be likely to have a significant effect on the environment.
Licensing decisions are made following the fullest consideration of all aspects of each application including environmental, technical and public interest aspects and observations received as part of the statutory and public consultation stage of the process.
In accordance with the applicable legislation, the Statutory and Public Consultation phase in respect of these applications is now underway. As you may be aware the Public Notice in each case will advise that members of the public may make observations in respect of the application in question within a fixed period of time from the date of publication of the Notice. As the applications in question are under active consideration as part of a statutory process it would not be appropriate for the Department to comment further on the matter pending completion of the licensing process.”