News Release

18th August 2011


Further Boost for Local Environmental Sector

- Tellus Border Soil Sampling Contract Awarded to Co. Meath Consultancy

- Sampling programme to begin immediately in Co Donegal


Agri-environmental consultancy OCAE Consultants Ltd has been awarded contracts to the value of over €250,000 as part of a groundbreaking geological project which will provide vitally important data to help manage Ireland’s natural resources.

The Co. Meath-based consultancy has won contracts to deliver the soil, sediment and water sampling elements of the Tellus Border Project, a major EU-funded mapping project of Ireland’s six border counties - Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

Up 16 field staff in teams of two were deployed to begin the survey in the Inishowen Peninsula of Co. Donegal last week. The sampling team will move in a southern direction across the region between now and Christmas 2011 collecting samples from upwards of 7,000 sites for analysis, covering 12,300 km2. Although field teams do not have land registry information, they are making every effort to gain permission before entering land on the day of the sampling.

David O’Connell from OCAE said: “We are delighted to have been awarded these contracts for this extremely exciting and innovative project. We see this project as being significant in adding to the scientific dataset for the country and also in creating jobs and opportunities for people from a range of disciplines, especially agriculture and environmental science. “

 “We will be working closely with the Geological Surveys of Ireland and Northern Ireland to ensure the programme runs as efficiently as possible without disruption to landowners. One of OCAE’s main strengths is our track record of successfully working on the ground with farmers and landowners, whether it is for soil sampling, nutrient management planning, livestock or crop husbandry advice; and we hope this background will contribute to the projects success.”

Ray Scanlon from the Geological Survey of Ireland said, “The samples collected across this region will be analysed for up to 55 elements and compounds providing invaluable data on the make up if the rocks, soils and waters which will be of benefit environmentally, agriculturally and economically to the border region.”

“The sampling team will carry identification and their vehicles will be branded with the Tellus Border logo so landowners can be assured of their authenticity. However if you are concerned about this or are interested in finding out more about the project you can contact our helpline on 1800 303 516 or visit”

The Tellus Border Project is a continuation of the successful Tellus Project in Northern Ireland which ran from 2004- 2007. As well as a ground-based geochemical survey involving soil, water and sediment sampling, there will be an airborne geophysical survey of the area in autumn this year. An aircraft flying at a low altitude of 60m will measure properties of soil and rocks with geophysical instruments it carries on board. Data collected during both surveys will be integrated with the existing data to give a cross border geological baseline.

The cross-border Tellus Border project has been funded by the INTERREG IVA development programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). This is the largest of the latest awards under the Environment theme of INTERREG IVA and is part funded by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and Northern Ireland’s Department of the Environment.


For further information please contact Kelly Mckee or Claire Bonner at Morrow Communications on 02890 393837 or

Notes for Editors

The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU structural funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IV designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The Programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

The INTERREG IVA 2007-2013 Programme, funded though the European Regional Development Fund, is worth €256 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders. It has two distinct priority measures to create co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable cross-border region. For more information on the SEUPB please visit

2. Partner Responsibilities


Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) -
- Tellus Border Project lead partner

- Project management

- Airborne geophysical survey of approx 65% of the land area and inland waters of parts of Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan.

The GSNI is part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland. It is staffed by scientists of the British Geological Survey (BGS) under contract to DETI, which allows GSNI to call upon expertise from within other parts of the BGS. GSNI also advises other Northern Ireland government departments and liaises closely with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). The GSNI provides geoscience information and services to inform decision making.


Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) –
Communications management
- Data management
- Geochemical soils and streams survey of the above six counties of RoI.


The GSI, founded in 1845, is Ireland’s 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. It is a division of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) and has about 50 multi-disciplinary staff.

- Integration of new RoI data with Tellus data; cross-border analysis and interpretation.


The project also has two academic partners who will deliver research studies:

Queen’s University Belfast -
- Characterisation and quantification of carbon in soil (post-doc). This will be led by Dr Jennifer McKinley and Dr Alastair Ruffell at Queen’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology.
- Detection, mapping and characterisation of pollution plumes (post-doc). This will be led by Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger at Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering and Dr Alastair Ruffell at Queen’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology.

Dundalk Institute of Technology –
- Hydrology and hydrogeology of wetlands of the border area (post-doc). This will be led by Dr. Suzanne Linnane of the National Centre for Freshwater Studies, Dundalk Institute of Technology.

3. OCAE Consultants Ltd -

OCAE was established in August 1997 and registered in April 1998. Founded on the back of a thriving agricultural consultancy, OCAE aims to tackle increasing environmental concerns relating to land use, using environmental best practice coupled with sound agricultural advice. OCAE provides a unique package, tailored to client's specific requirements.

OCAE consultants provide quality environmental and agricultural advice with technical support to our public and private client base. We provide value added professional services, addressing the environmental, technical and commercial challenges faced in this dynamic environment.

4. Project background
Tellus Border is the latest phase of a project originally conceived by GSNI, GSI and the British Geological Survey in the late 1990s as ‘The Resource and Environmental Survey of Ireland’ (RESI). This was intended to be a comprehensive and integrated geophysical and geochemical survey of the whole island of Ireland, with the objective of providing state-of-the-art geo-science information to inform government development decisions.

The first phase of RESI, the Tellus Project, comprised
geoscience surveys of Northern Ireland completed between 2004 and 2007. The project was co-funded by DETI, DoE, and the EU’s ‘Building Sustainable Prosperity’ fund of the Rural Development Programme of DARD. These surveys comprised detailed geochemical surveys and a low-level airborne geophysical survey of the whole of Northern Ireland. The results have been used widely by government and industry for environmental management and the value of the project was acknowledged by national awards for GIS, mineral exploration promotion, and public relations.

The second phase of the programme in Northern Ireland, ‘Tellus2’, was funded between 2008 and 2011 by the Chancellor’s Fund for Innovation; this phase extended data analysis and promoted the use of the data widely amongst the research community. Today, 10 PhDs based on Tellus data are in progress in UK and Ireland.

Objectives for Tellus2 were set out in the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland Action Plan, 2008-11. These include Action 3.1.3: ‘Collaborate with government and industrial partners in the RoI in extending the Tellus project into the RoI’. Accordingly, in July 2009 GSNI assembled a cross-border partnership to apply for funding under the Environment theme of INTERREG IVA. The submission proposed geochemical and airborne geophysical surveys of the six northern counties of RoI, continued analysis and application of existing Tellus data in NI, and three complementary research projects in wetlands, soil carbon, and detection of pollution plumes. The application was successful and SEUPB awarded a grant of £4,014,609 for the Tellus Border project to run from 1 November 2011 to 31 December 2013.

The Tellus Border Project surveys were officially launched by the Minister for Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte, on 4th July 2011 in Cavan. The event attracted over 70 delegates from central government, local government, academia, private industry and local media.