As previously reported on Afloat.ie at the end of June, Ireland's fisheries board had announced a "significant delay" of four to six weeks before publishing the licence application.
But in a recent statement, BIM announced that it received permission some weeks ago from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the marine to begin the statutory consultation process, in which it is sharing the licence application and Environmental Impact Statement "with a list of State bodies for their appraisal and feedback".
The statutory consultation will continue till Tuesday 2 October 2012, and BIM promises that all feedback will be made available to the public via the BIM website "to further assist them in their assessment of the Environmental Impact Statement when it goes to full public consultation".
The 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands on a 500-hectare site, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.
BIM intends to franchise the licence, should it be approved, to a third party "who agrees to a legally binding contract to farm the Atlantic salmon to the highest organic and environmental standards". Approval of the project could also see the creation of as many as 500 jobs, some 20% more than previously estimated.
The news comes after the ministerial apprival of salmon farm licence assignments from five separate operators in nearby Connemara, designed to "consolidate and revitalise" aquaculture in the region.
Explaining BIM's plans for the consultation process, the statement added: "Previously, both statutory and public consultation would have been carried out in parallel. However, Ireland has recently (June 2012) ratified the Aarhus Convention. The convention lays down rules to promote citizens involvement and to improve public consultation in the making of decisions with potential environmental impact by the state.
"Given the recent ratification of the Convention and for a number of other legal and technical reasons, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has signed a new Statutory Instrument (SI No 301 of 2012), bringing into law new periods of public consultation for fish farm licence applications. In this instance the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have instructed BIM to carry out statutory consultation in full before proceeding with public consultation.
"BIM believes that this approach will help to further inform the public during their period of consultation."