Exploration Licensing Process

Guidelines for Exploration

General Principles:

Environmentally responsible management should be an integral component of all exploration programmes.

Those involved in exploration activities should make themselves fully aware of any ecological or cultural areas of interest within the boundaries of their prospecting licence.

There should be compliance with all relevant Government laws and regulations for the protection of the environment. Where such laws and regulations do not adequately protect the environment, best contemporary practice in environmental management standards shall be maintained in conjunction with effective exploration, regardless of the location of operations.

The environmental consequences of each exploration activity should be considered and planned for. Any needed changes to technique and practice should be made in order to conform with these Guidelines.

Every effort should be made to avoid pollution of the environment during exploration, arising either through inappropriate waste disposal or waste management.

Holders of Prospecting Licences should take responsibility for ensuring that all contractors and employees are fully informed of these Guidelines and legislative requirements and should ensure that adequate insurance cover is in place prior to entry.

There should be full consideration and close liaison with relevant landowners and regulatory authorities.

Any damage to vegetation, land surface or landowner property that may occur as a result of exploration activities should be minimised and corrected without undue delay.

Guidelines for types of work undertaken:

Ground Geophysical Surveys

Cables must not be left unattended in areas where livestock are present. If necessary, arrangements should be made with the landowner to remove livestock at a mutually convenient time for the duration of the work.

Record of Work

Suitable records of all excavation work or work relating to groundwater testing must be kept by the company, including a complaints register (and action taken) for inspection by officials of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the relevant Local Authority as required. After completion of the work, a summary report, including relevant data, must be furnished to the Department and the relevant Local Authority.

Restricted Areas

Under European Union Directives recently implemented by Ireland, certain areas are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Within these areas certain exploration activities may now be restricted, and require specific permission. All holders of Prospecting Licences are required to ascertain whether there are any SACs or SPAs in their ground and to comply with any restrictions advised by EMD. Approval to carry out restricted activities must be sought in writing, with full details of work to be undertaken and one month's notice, from the Exploration and Mining Division of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Companies must bear in mind that it is necessary to ascertain also the location of National Nature Reserves, National Monuments, Rural Environmental Protection Schemes and gas pipelines within the licence area and to ensure that there is no interference with such sites or features. With regard to:

(a) National Nature Reserves, no access is permitted without the prior approval of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and no trenching or drilling is to be undertaken without the prior approval of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources;

(b) Sites indicated on the Sites and Monuments Record Constraint maps (available for inspection at County Libraries or Local Planning Authority), such sites are not to have any exploration work undertaken in or adjacent to them without the prior approval of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. Such approval should be sought through the Exploration and Mining Division of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources;

(c) Rural Environmental Protection Schemes (REPS), no work should be conducted in an area subject to REPS without the prior approval of the landowner(s)/user(s). Maps and details of REPS areas are available from the Farm Development Services (Teagasc) in each Department of Agriculture and Food County office;

(d) Gas pipeline routes, no trenching or drilling is permitted within 30m of the pipeline without the prior approval of Bord Gáis Éireann.

March 2003
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