THE row about kelp harvesting proposals simmering around West Cork is rooted in one simple fact: The public does not trust regulatory authorities to do the right thing, to protect the common good or the environment in the face of proposals for commercial development.
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.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved