High Court Order sought for Bantry Bay salmon farm escape report
West Cork Times, 4 Dec 2014
THE High Court has been asked to require the Information Commissioner, Peter Tyndall, to rule on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s refusal to release the accident report on the escape of 230,000 salmon in Bantry Bay last February.
West Cork based lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have asked the Court for an ‘Order of Mandamus’ requiring the Commissioner to hear an appeal of the Minister’s refusal.
Alex O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay (SBB) said that after the official count on 19th February 2014 they understood that the farm had been “virtually wiped out”.
However Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney refused to release the report on the grounds that it was an internal communication and that the public interest would not be served by the disclosure.
The group appealed this refusal to the Information Commission, but he has refused to give the group a date by which he will make his decision, stating that the backlog of cases is such that he is still working on 2012 appeals.
FIE Director Tony Lowes said that the recently released 2013 Annual Report of the Information Commission showed that there had been no improvement in the long delays the group has experienced with its appeals and that in fact the report states “the backlog is growing”.
Mr Lowes said the matter was especially urgent as a previous report of an incident in 2010 released to the group last year without any delays had shown that the Minister was at fault for not requiring the necessary inspections of the equipment.
FIE Director Tony Lowes said the group believed that the report would show that in fact nothing had been done in the last four years to ensure the safety of the installations.
“Given the increasing severity and frequency of storm events due to climate change, it is vital that we see this report before the storms recur”, he said.
The group has included the Attorney General in its action for failing to ensure that Irish law correctly transposed the European Directives requirement for expeditious procedures; “expeditious” is defined as something “done with speed and efficiency”. The case is set to be heard before the High Court on January 20th, 2015.