The 2016 annual report for the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board received just one appeal in 2016, but received 15 the previous year, of which 14 related to a proposed fish farm off Shot Head, near Bantry, Co Cork.
Late last year, ALAB asked for a new environmental impact statement on the risk of sea-lice infestation and assessments on the otter, seal, and wild bird population in the area near Bantry, in relation to that appeal. It said it could be next October before a final decision is made.
The 2016 annual report, laid before the Oireachtas, states: “Increasingly complex environmental policy and legislation, as well as an evolving body of case law, is having a significant influence on how the board is dealing with the appeals which come before it”. Much of the case law concerns environmental matters, including requirements for environmental impact assessments and appropriate assessments under the Habitats Directive.
“The board has spent considerable time in reviewing and updating its procedures, for the consideration and determination of appeals, to take into account of the relevant legislation and emerging case law.”
The report also highlighted how a shortage of staff meant one meeting could not take place. A vacancy emerged, due to the expiry of a member’s terms in November, 2014, a vacancy filled on June 17, 2016. Two other board members saw their terms of office end in April, 2016, and “as re-appointments were not made until June 17, 2016, this impacted adversely on the board’s ability to hold meetings”.