The possibility that Providence Resources will be granted a Foreshore Licence to undertake an exploratory well drill in Dublin Bay has been met with an outcry from local residents, cialis sale politicians and environmental activist groups.

Conrad Richardson, Environmental Officer in UCD, has recognised the planned oil drilling in Dublin Bay as a key environmental challenge facing the Irish community and something which should be on the agenda for UCD students. He plans on inviting a guest speaker representing the Protect Our Coast movement to speak at UCD’s Environmental Week, held between the 27th of February and March 2nd.

Protect Our Coast and the Dun Laoghaire based Save our Seafront have facilitated a number of public meetings to address the various social, economic and environmental concerns arising from the drilling.

The response from interest groups and the public has resulted in an overwhelming call for a Public Enquiry to be made. This call has been received with considerable support from local TDs and councillors, including Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore.

However, despite the outcry for an investigation, and the “large number” of submissions received by the Department of the Environment, the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan has rejected the call for a public inquiry.

Hogan has said that the nature of the application by Providence Recourses is the subject of a public consultation process, and as such he does not deem the related public inquiry as “necessary.” This decision has been met by a great deal of criticism from many involved in the protest campaign, including Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.

According to Gilmore, the 1933 Foreshore Act does give Hogan a right to call for an oral hearing. If Hogan does in fact invoke his right to such a hearing, it would only be the second time this has happened. The only other such hearing was held in 1991, over plans for a marina in Dingle, County Kerry.

Many of those supporting the plans for the oil drill point to the financially lucrative nature of the project.

This could be a possible end to Ireland’s recent austerity, as the state can gain between 25-40% of the profits. It is also pointed out that while a company may drill a dry well, at high risk and high cost, the Irish state will lose nothing.

Amongst these advocates is Anna McGettigan, second year politics student and Dalkey resident who spoke to the College Tribune. “Obviously, the addition of a drill and oil rig isn’t optimal in an area with such iconic coastline, but I think that given the current economic situation turning down an opportunity that is providing jobs and resources is ridiculous.”

However, for many involved in the campaign against the prospective oil drill, such as Melisa Halpin from Save our Seafront, the economic benefit is not worth the cost of potential environmental danger.

“The long term implications of this decision are enormous and at this stage, considering the potential environmental dangers and the questionable benefit any oil find would be to the state under the current licensing and taxation regulations, Save Our Seafront cannot see any reason why Providence should be granted this license.”

In response to the environmental and social concerns, Providence Resources and its partners, Star Energy Oil and Gas Ltd, have said that the planned seismic survey, site survey and exploration drilling “will be at a significant distance from any designated area of environmental or ecological interest.”

The debate surrounding this issue raises serious questions of Ireland’s energy future, as Ireland relies heavily upon foreign oil and gas imports. Olivia Carrington, second year student of physics with astronomy and space science, told the Tribune what frustrated her most is that Ireland is spending too much time and money on “a dying industry.”

“As a finite resource, we should be looking for clean and renewable energies. We need investment to develop technologies and develop on existing ones to make them more efficient. A half-arsed approach isn’t gonna work!”

Providence Resources has made a statement saying that they are open for any member of the public to make an appointment to meet with them. The company is stressing that the exploration is at a “relatively early stage” and that the current licence is required “for exploratory activity only.”

Roisin Carlos