Current fund raiser for legal case against Aughinish Alumina
If mining comes to Clare, so do toxic chemicals. You can help keep them out.
Letter sent to Chief Executive of Clare County Council on 25th February 2023:
Dear Mr. Dowling
We are writing to you as the Chief Executive of Clare County Council to request a meeting in relation to what we believe are serious omissions from the draft County Development Plan (dCDP).
Futureproof Clare (FPC) are very concerned and disappointed to read in your responses to the submissions on the Proposed Amendments to the draft CDP that no changes to the wording concerning protecting the health of the people and ecology of Clare from the negative impact of extractive industries, including mining, have been implemented.
We and others included in our submissions on the proposed amendments the request for a ban on the use of mercury, sulphuric acid, cyanide and cyanide compounds in the county: toxic substances used in gold and zinc mining. We also called for a strengthening of the overall wording to ensure more effective protection against the negative impact of mining and other extractive industries.
In response to FPC’s submission on Proposed Amendments to the dCDP, you wrote the following:
“I believe it is important to keep objectives broad enough to ensure best practice standards to protect the environment can be achieved, regardless of the technique, compound or processing agent used in the industry.”
FPC and many members of the community who wrote to their councillors believe that not including at the very least a ban on the use of these recognised toxic substances leaves Clare’s extremely vulnerable groundwater bodies wide open to poisoning from these substances. Our groundwater bodies provide 80% of our drinking water. Given that several mining prospecting licences have been granted in Clare, mining is a real threat. Leitrim County Council have recognised the importance of banning the use of cyanide, mercury and sulphuric acid within extractive industries; Donegal and Sligo are considering it and other councils are following.
Mr Dowling, as Chief Executive of Clare County Council, we would like to remind you of the commitment you made at the December Clare County Council meeting in Ennis in response to Cllr. Johnny Flynn’s motion on the wording of the dCDP in relation to the extractive industries. The motion included a suggestion to include in the text of the dCDP a ban on the use of mercury, sulphuric acid, cyanide and cyanide compounds, and the suggestion was overwhelmingly supported by the elected representatives who had received letters from constituents to ask them to support the proposed wording. At the December meeting you stated:
“…there is fairly universal support of what you are suggesting….just to give you a commitment this is duly noted and we will seek to reflect it and strengthen it in the final wording of the plan”.
We are asking you, as the Chief Executive, to remember the commitment you made in December to the council and people of Clare and at the very least include the aforementioned ban in the new County Development Plan. We cannot think of any good reasons not to implement this ban and we therefore request your presence at a meeting to explain to us in person why you would choose not to include the ban in the draft CDP.
We are aware that there is a council workshop on the draft Plan on Tuesday 28th February at 2pm and a group of us intend to be there out of concern for the lack of adequate protection in the Plan from the potential harmful effects of mining in Clare. Please do come and talk to us.
Members of FutureProof Clare
On Thursday 23rd February, Clare councillors will meet in full to discuss the final recommendations for the County Development Plan and on 9th March the final decisions for the Plan will be made. Amongst those recommendations, thanks to activists working with councillors in Clare and Leitrim, is a ban on mercury, sulphuric acid, cyanide and cyanide compounds: toxic substances used in gold, silver and zinc mining.
We need all the councillors to push for this ban to be included. And we need YOU to ask them to. Already Leitrim council has adopted the stronger wording – and other councils including Sligo and Donegal are coming on board.
Please see below for a suggested letter that you can send to councillors in Clare.
If you are not sure whether mining is a threat in Clare, please read the following:
Nine mining prospecting licences have been granted in County Clare for gold, silver and zinc. Prospecting involves searching for minerals and resources using both non-invasive methods such as desktop surveys) and invasive methods such as drilling holes hundreds of metres into the land. According to the Mineral Act 2017, a prospecting licence holder can take an injunction out against a private landholder if they are refused permission to prospect on the land. (p98)
It has already been indicated by mining companies that there are likely deposits found in Clare. Ireland is the 10th largest producer of zinc worldwide and hopes are high in prospecting companies that there is gold ready to be extracted.
If the mining companies are correct and they find base deposit metals with the prospecting licence they have been granted, they will be able to apply for planning permission for a mine. Mines for gold, silver and zinc metals require the use of highly toxic chemicals to process. The draft of the new Clare County Development Plan (CDP) presently offers no protection against the poisoning of land and drinking water from these substances.
In the draft Plan it is written: The County Clare Groundwater Protection Scheme classifies the majority of Clare’s ground water as having “Extreme Vulnerability”. (1)
80% of drinking water sources in mid & east Clare are from groundwater bodies (GWB). (2)
It is recognised in official documents that mining is one of the predominate pressures putting our drinking water at risk. (3)
Please contact your councillor before next Thursday and tell them how important it is to protect Clare from the negative impact of mining.
- 1.Vol 1 of draft CDP at p 258.
- 2.80% of drinking water sources in mid & east Clare are from groundwater bodies (GWB) ie using below surface acquifiers & bore wells for raw water prior to treatment for public potable water usage .
- 3.IW draft Regional Water Resources Plan – Eastern & Midlands ( RWRP-EM) which covers mid & east Clare includes mining as one of the predominate pressures placing “GWB at risk”
Suggested email below:
I am deeply concerned about the lack of environmental and health protection afforded in the present draft County Development Plan against the negative impacts of extractive industries – especially mining. Two companies presently hold nine prospecting licenses in County Clare.
As an elected representative of the people of Clare (and as a member of your constituency), I am asking you to push for the strengthening of the wording in the draft Plan, including a ban on the use of mercury, sulphuric acid, cyanide and cyanide compounds: toxic substances used in gold and zinc mining.
Thanks to activists in the County pushing for the motion and Cllr Johnny Flynn proposing it, at the council meeting last December there was unanimous support amongst councillors for the adoption of this stronger wording in the CDP – potentially including the ban – and a commitment from the Chief Executive to return to the Planning Dept with this urgent request.
In the draft Plan it is written:
The County Clare Groundwater Protection Scheme classifies the majority of Clare’s ground water as having “ Extreme Vulnerability”. (Vol 1 dCDP p258). 80% of drinking water sources in mid & east Clare are from groundwater bodies (GWB). It is recognised in official documents that mining is one of the predominate pressures putting our drinking water at risk. (IW draft Regional Water Resources Plan – Eastern & Midlands (RWRP EM))
I am counting on you to add your vocal support at the CDP workshop for the council on Thursday 23rd February and at the next Council meeting on 9th March.
We, the people of Clare, are relying on our elected representatives to act responsibly on our behalf on this serious matter.
Futureproof Clare V Aughinish Alumina
We are raising money to pay legal fees to take a Russian-owned aluminium refinery operating in Co. Limerick to court. Why? Because they want to expand a disposal area for toxic mining waste beside an area of conservation on the Shannon Estuary.
Please donate if you can: https://www.gofundme.com/legal-case-against-toxic-bauxite-refinery/
We are activists working together for social and ecological justice – thinking globally, acting locally.
Please take action to help prevent mining in Co. Clare!
On 12th December, Clare County Councillors will vote on a motion about whether to ban the use of cyanide and mercury in the processing of minerals in Clare, as well as whether to strengthen the environmental and human health protection from the negative impact of extractive industries including mining.
If the motion is passed, it greatly increases the chance of it being written into the Clare County Development Plan (2023-2029).
Why is this important?
In the last twelve months, several licences for prospecting for zinc and lead in East Clare were granted.
Extractive mining practices represent a threat to health and safety and our natural environment, including the likelihood of polluting groundwater and even causing sinkholes, as has happened in Cork and Monaghan in recent years.
Cyanide, mercury and compounds of cyanide are toxic chemicals often used in gold mining, and if the chemicals become banned, it will present a major obstacle for certain mining companies coming to Clare. As yet, no prospecting licences have been granted in Clare for gold mining, but there is at least one pending application in the East Clare area.
If we act swiftly, before Monday December 12th, we can put pressure on our local representatives to vote for the motion to protect ourselves and our environment.
Please send an email (see suggestion below) or make a call to your local councillors about supporting the Motion on Monday 12th to include banning the use of cyanide.There are several councillors for each area and their contact details can be found here: https://www.clarecoco.ie/your-council/contact-the-council/councillors/
Letter to councillors to support anti-mining motion on 12th December 2022.
I am aware that the Draft Clare County Development Plan (2023-2029) is still under review and the final version will serve as guidance for developments in Clare for the next six years.
I am also aware that one of the areas open for amendments relates to the extractive industries, which includes mining in Co. Clare.
At a Clare County Council meeting on 12th December, Councillor Johnny Flynn intends to propose a motion which would call for stronger wording to protect the environment and human health from the negative impact of extractive industrial processes.
This wording includes the banning of the use of mercury, cyanide or cyanide compounds, breakdown products of cyanide and sulphuric acid as processing chemicals. These chemicals are used in gold mining, therefore this motion could help prevent gold mining in Clare. There is strong evidence that these chemicals present an unreasonable risk of harm to human beings and the environment due to their toxicity.
As your constituent, I ask you to support the motion banning cyanide and other chemicals used in the extractive process when it comes to vote on 12th December.
Links to interesting relevant articles and facts
1. Hannan Metals https://hannanmetals.com/projects/clare-project/
2. Sinkhole in Monaghan https://greennews.ie/new-sinkhole-opens-near-disused-mine-shaft-monaghan/#:~:text=A%20new%20nine%2Dmetre%20sinkhole,underneath%20that%20area%20of%20land.
3. Sinkhole in West Cork https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-30958875.html
4. Cyanide and mercury dangers in gold mining https://www.tni.org/en/article/save-our-sperrins-water-more-precious-than-gold
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