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Minister McHugh Gives Green Light to Major Survey for North Midlands

Dublin, 18 August 2014

 - €2 million 'Tellus North Midlands' project to extend economic benefits of Tellus Border project into midlands region

- Counties Roscommon, Longford and Westmeath to be part of scientific survey from the skies this summer

Major regional geological survey of the north midlands area—including counties Galway, Roscommon, Longford and Westmeath—has the potential to deliver significant long-term economic and environmental benefits for the area and has been given the go-ahead by the Department for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources after a positive independent review.

Led by the Geological Survey of Ireland, the groundbreaking survey will take place this summer/autumn, extending the work of 'Tellus Border' (2011–2013); a highly successful cross-border geo-environmental mapping project of the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the findings of the Tellus Border review, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Mr Joe McHugh TD explained why it made sound economic sense to now extend the survey into the north midlands region:

"Significant benefits have been already been realised in the border region from the Tellus Border project, not least an estimated €1.4 million inward investment into the border economy from mineral exploration activity. Other factors such as improved information for assessing radon risk, data to enable better environmental management, and enhance agricultural productivity, are all highly relevant in terms economic and environmental impact.

"Based on this very strong feedback, we are best placed to assess the full potential for the extension of Tellus across other regions of Ireland. We very much anticipate that the value of this latest project will be reinvested in the north midlands region on a long-term basis".

Taking place throughout this summer and late autumn, surveying will include airborne data collection along with soil sampling. The low-level airborne geophysical survey will encompass an area of 5,840 km2 mainly over counties Roscommon, Longford and Westmeath. The ground-based geochemical soil survey team will cover a wider area of 9,675 km2, also incorporating parts of counties Mayo, Galway, Offaly, Kildare and Meath.

As it is vital to raise public awareness of the project, particularly amongst the local community, farmers and animal owners, the Tellus team will deliver a widespread communications campaign which will include full details of survey operations.

Koen Verbruggen, Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland, said "The highly successful cross-border partnerships on the EU-funded Tellus Border project form the bedrock for this next phase of surveying. I'm delighted that the Geological Survey of Ireland now has the opportunity to extend the Tellus surveying southwards and into the midlands".

The decision to extend the survey into the north midlands area was based on an independent review by PA Consulting Group of the flagship Tellus Border project which identified key outcomes including inward investment and benefits for environmental management and agricultural productivity, ensuring value for public money across all counts.

More information on Tellus North Midlands is available through http://www.tellus.ie/ and on a freephone information line 1800 303 516. The Post Project Evaluation report on Tellus Border by PA Consulting Group is available at http://www.tellusborder.eu/.

ENDS

 

 

Notes for Editors

· The Geological Survey of Ireland, founded in 1845, is the National Earth Science Agency. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology. GSI is a division of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR). http://www.gsi.ie/.

· Since 2007, over 25,000 km2 of the island of Ireland has been surveyed through the Tellus and Tellus Border projects which mapped the geology of Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. Outputs from the new phase of the project will be merged with existing data to make seamless maps which will be available free of charge online to all.

· The cross-border Tellus Border project was funded by the INTERREG IVA development programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Tellus Border was managed by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Geological Survey of Ireland, Queen's University Belfast and Dundalk Institute of Technology. Outputs from Tellus Border, including data to view and download, programme reports and research reports are available online, free of charge, at http://www.tellusborder.eu/.

'Tellus' was the Roman goddess of the earth, also called Terra Mater.

Contact:

Morrow Communications (Seona McGrath/Claire Bonner/Kerri Smith)

048 9039 3837

Press Office at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on 01 678 2441 or email Press.office@dcenr.gov.ie.

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