The Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, has announced the commencement of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Porcupine Basin area.
The comprehensive environmental assessment is being held prior to an exploration licensing round later this year, in which applications will be invited for licences to explore the potential of the Porcupine area.
The SEA will primarily involve the gathering and analysis of a wide range of data on the Porcupine area. It will assess the projected level of activity arising from any potential exploration in the area and consider measures to ensure that any effects of exploration on the marine environment are minimal.
External environmental experts ERT (Scotland) and AquaFact (Ireland) have been appointed to conduct the assessment, which will be managed by a technical Steering Group. The Steering Group has membership drawn from Governmental and non-governmental agencies, environmental agencies, industry and the research and university sectors. The Steering Group will publish a draft environmental report.
A six-week public consultation process will then take place, after which a final report will be published - taking account of the issues raised during the public consultation phase.