18th January

Application to dump tunnel spoil into Dublin Bay is temporarily withdrawn

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended that Dublin City Council’s (DCC) application for a Dumping at Sea licence be withdrawn due to the late submission of an updated screening document for the Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Statement.

These documents were not received by the Agency until February 20, 2013, after the timeframe for submission/observations from the public had expired on January 31, 2013.

9.2environment dublin bay

In 1997, the Muglins Lighthouse (off Dalkey Island) was converted to solar powered electric light and its range ws increased to 11nm. In good conditions diving here can rival many of the best sites on the west coast. Photo Gillian Mills/Inshore Ireland

‘They are vital parts of the application and the public should have had the opportunity to consider these documents when preparing their submissions/observations,’ a letter from the EPA to submission makers reads.

 Notwithstanding, the ‘updated’ AA and NIS supporting documents in DCC’s application in fact related to an application by Dublin Port Company, carried out by  Jacobs in May 2011.

Inshore Ireland brought this to the attention of both DCC and the EPA on April 16 and was subsequently advised that incorrect documents had been ‘inadvertently’ uploaded to the EPA’s website.

The correct documents can now be viewed at: http://www.epa.ie/licences/lic_eDMS/090151b280489248.pdf

Dublin City Council reacts to application withdrawal

In a statement to Inshore Ireland, DCC said it was ‘committed’ to ensuring that the environmental impacts of this proposal are fully assessed and that the public are ‘fully consulted prior to any decision on it being made’. 

The statement adds:

The decision to propose the ‘Rockabill to Dalkey Island’  cSAC was made by the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht as Dublin City Council were in the process of lodging the application with the EPA. 

In this regard Dublin City Council made note in our application that we intended to update the Screening for an Appropriate Assessment submitted with the application and would resubmit, together with a Natura Impact Statement, if required.

Following review of the Screening for an Appropriate Assessment, it transpired that an Appropriate Assessment was required. This has been completed and has been submitted to the EPA. 

The EPA have requested Dublin City Council to withdraw the application which is now being withdrawn and will be resubmitted so that a new round of consultation can take place with all of the information available to the public and the EPA. 

Dublin City Council intends doing this very shortly.  We will publish a further newspaper notice to advise the public when the new submission has been made and is available once again to view and comment on. 

All aspects of the application will remain unchanged with the exception of the inclusion of the updated Screening Report and new Natura Impact Statement.  The application fee associated with the original application will cover any revised application and as such, with the exception of the publication of a new information notice, no additional costs will be incurred as a result of this resubmission.

Snapshot of public submission common concerns

Ocean Divers

Dublin Bay is a natural resource that needs to be protected fully for the benefit of the environment and the people of Ireland, providing excellent opportunities for marine-based activities including angling, sailing, windsurfing, kite-boarding, scuba diving, sea kayaking,  snorkelling and swimming.

Dumping of spoil with thousands of tonnes of silt and dust mixed with unknown quantities of chemicals will have a major negative impact on the water in Dublin Bay.

Little or no ‘flushing’ in Dublin Bay so whatever is held in suspension will drift a little north and then drift back a little sound on each tide, slowly settling all over the bay area.

Irish Underwater Council

Dumping will not only destroy fragile balance of marine life… also endanger the safety of divers due to reduced visibility.

‘Impact of suspended solids has not been considered. They will increase turbidity and reduce light penetrations thereby possibly affecting phytoplankton and seaweed growth and in turn the animals that depend upon these plants.

Hook Head Sub Aqua Club

Full design and specification of the tunnel has not been decided and so it is not possible at this early stage to know the impact this project will have  when all information is not available.

Dublin Bay is relatively shallow and the tidal streams acting within the bay do not allow for material dumped within its confines to be easily flushed away. This material is left suspended in the water column will increase water turbidity and reduce light penetration…

The spoil will smother the seabed killing any benethic fauna and other reef habitats present.

Public submissions also referred to the designation on December 20, 2012, of Rockabill to Dalkey Island Reefs and Harbour Porpoise as a Special Areas of Conservation and that DCC’s plan would seem to contravene the spirit of such designation.

Irish Whale & Dolphin Group

Concerned that vibrations and noise levels caused by tunnelling will degrade the local habitat for harbour porpoise

The Dun Laoghaire Fisherman’s Group

As Fishermen and environmental protectors through sustainable fishing practices, any move to foul the waters of the bay would have serious consequences on water quality, sea life, could pose a health hazard and runs the risk of damaging potential heritage sites on the foreshore and in submerged locations. 

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