Celebrity chef Darina Allen and the international Slow Food organisation have clashed with Bord Iascaigh Mhara over its proposed 500-hectare organic salmon farm off the Aran Islands.
In a letter to Simon Coveney, the agriculture and marine minister, the renowned owner of the Ballymaloe Cookery School accused BIM of placing information in part two of its environmental impact statement (EIS) that incorrectly “created the impression that Slow Food supported and endorsed the proposed project”.
In the letter, Ms Allen stated that BIM, which is spearheading the project, took “a passage from the Burren Smokehouse website allegedly without the knowledge or permission of the owner and added that she is a member of Slow Food and Good Food Ireland”.
Slow Food Ireland told the Burren Smokehouse about what had been written in the EIS and the Burren Smokehouse subsequently contacted BIM and asked it to remove the controversial paragraph.
BIM has strongly denied that the paragraph was meant as an “endorsement of any kind with regard to the salmon farming project”.
“The information presented was factually correct and accurate,” said BIM’s aquaculture development manager, Donal Maguire.
Ms Allen said Slow Food Ireland is “very anxious to clarify this matter” and to ensure that Mr Coveney has been given a re-edited version of the EIS.
The EIS was submitted as part of BIM’s application to the Department of Agriculture’s aquaculture licencing section.
The group No Salmon Farms at Sea has also written to the Department of Agriculture asking if the EIS being assessed by the department is “the one that went through public consultation, in line with the statutory process, or the edited document”.
Tony Lowes of Save Bantry Bay and Friends of the Irish Environment has also said that BIM should not be altering an EIS without informing stakeholders.
BIM has described the changes as “inconsequential” and said that “it should be clearly understood that there has been no breach in the integrity of the application process as a result of the removal of this paragraph”.
“The EIS which went through public and statutory consultation is the same EIS that is currently under consideration by the minister and his officials,” said Mr Maguire.
“BIM’s continuing to host an online version of the EIS on its website on a non-statutory courtesy basis was done purely as a public service to facilitate the provision of information regarding the project.”
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