Marine Minister Simon Coveney has refused to outline any timescale for a decision on the controversial salmon farm proposed off the Aran Islands.
Despite repeated promptings from former Minister Eamon Ó Cuív in the Dail last week, Minister Coveney said that any decision on the Galway Bay proposal was dependent on recommendations he had still to get on his desk.
“I have put those who are considering this application under some pressure to try to get those recommendations onto my desk but I am far more concerned about getting the decision right than I am about getting a decision made quickly on an application of that size and scale,” he said.
“I think people would expect that from me,” he said.
Deputy Ó Cúiv said that many people around Galway were very concerned about the proposal for the fin fish farm in Galway Bay – and he said that the uncertainty only adding to that deep upset.
“It was reported that the Minister said a decision would be made on that soon,” he said.
“That was reported in the newspaper even though I can never get any indication from him here. Can he tell me within what timescale – two months, three months or whatever – he expects to make a decision on the application for the Bord Iascaigh Mhara fish farm in Galway Bay?”
But Minister Coveney would not give a timescale – and pointed out that in 2014 he made positive determinations in respect of just two renewal applications for fin fish farming for trout farms.
By comparison, since taking office he made 278 determinations in respect of shellfish aquaculture.
“When we get a system working, which we now have for shellfish, I will make decisions as soon as I have a scientific, sound basis to do so,” he said.
“Fin fish farming has proved to be more complex than that, particularly around salmon and the location of salmon farms, salmon cages and so on.
“For the record, because people seem to think I am a Minister who just wants to drive through salmon farm applications all over the place, I have not granted one salmon farm licence application since coming into office and I will not until I get recommendations on my desk, from the Marine Institute primarily backed up by my own Department officials, to the effect that it is appropriate to grant the licence,” he added.