Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 09 December, 2004

Written Answers - Nuclear Plants.

[149]   54. Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in regard to the threat posed to the State by the operation of UK nuclear plants, he will comment on the progress to date with action through the courts against the UK Government-British Nuclear Fuels; the action taken through diplomatic channels over the past year and political dialogue with the UK Government. [32796/04]

  Mr. Roche: I refer to the reply to Question No. 13 of 4 November 2004.

With regard to the Irish Government’s ongoing campaign against the Sellafield nuclear plant, effort is being directed at the successful completion of ongoing discussions between Irish and UK officials aimed at improving co-operation and consultations between the two countries in regard to Sellafield. These discussions arise from the provisional measures order granted to Ireland in June 2003 by the arbitration tribunal in the context of legal proceedings being brought by Ireland against the UK under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, in regard to the Sellafield MOX plant.

This order also made provisions for reports on progress towards developing the improved co-operation and consultation structures to be submitted by both Ireland and the UK to the tribunal on specified dates. The most recent report to the tribunal was submitted on schedule by both parties on 30 November 2004. The ongoing discussions and reports remain confidential to both parties and to the tribunal. However, it is my intention to report on any initiatives arising from this process in due course.

As the House will be aware, the substantive hearing of Ireland’s legal action against the UK under UNCLOS is currently adjourned pending resolution of jurisdictional issues raised by the European Commission and which are now the subject of litigation between Ireland and the Commission before the European Court of Justice. With regard to the European Court of Justice case, pleadings have now been exchanged and Ireland has recently applied to the court for the holding of an oral hearing. A decision is awaited.