There is no suggestion that BioAtlantis, the company granted a licence to harvest kelp in 1,800 acres of Bantry Bay, plans to do anything illegal but the licencing process, hardly an example of transparency, has provoked deep suspicion.
We do not have a good record in environmental protection. Everything from sky-darkening commercial softwood forestry, the over grazing of uplands, and habitat destruction to facilitate industrial farming and open-cage fish farming in our estuaries — and don’t even mention water — suggest that one set of interests trumps the other. This cannot continue. A way must be found to restore confidence in our regulatory process or too many real opportunities will go a-begging — or elsewhere. That trust can only be restored by an agency with real teeth and a commitment to absolute transparency.