TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore and singer Christy Moore have sharply criticised the Department of the Environment for allowing local residents just 21 days to object to plans to drill for oil off the coast of Dublin.
The pair are among hundreds of residents in south Dublin who have made submissions on an application by Providence Resources to explore the Kish Basin near Dalkey Island for oil and gas.
And Mr Gilmore said that a public hearing should be held if the company strike oil and seek permission to erect an oil rig and go into production.
His submission says that "exceptional care" should be given by his cabinet colleague, Environment Minister Phil Hogan, in approving a foreshore licence which would allow Providence to explore the area, about six kilometres off the Dublin coast.
The Tanaiste said he was concerned about the 21-day period for public consultation, saying it would be "helpful" if more time was given, adding that areas where exploration was proposed was of "significant importance" to the tourism and fisheries industry.
"The issues which arise include the possible damage to areas of fishery conservation, the consequences of any possible oil spill not only on the marine environment but also on the amenity of Dublin Bay...I therefore believe exceptional care should be given to this foreshore licence application," he said.
Previous studies and exploration drilling have indicated the possibility of oil or gas reserves in the area and under the plans, a seismic survey will be carried out and drilling will follow based on these results.
The application is currently under review by specialists in the Department of the Environment, and a decision is expected later this year.
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