Written Answers. - Corncrake Conservation Scheme.

Séamus Hughes

Question:

205 Mr. Hughes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry his views on the case made by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy to its proposal for a separate budget from the rural environmental protection scheme to enable a separate but complementary corncrake conservation scheme to be established from 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8533/96]

As I am sure the Deputy is aware the corncrake grant scheme has been operated by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy for some years now with funding provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Indeed the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht has recently announced the allocation of £64,000 for this scheme in 1996. The rural environment protection scheme administered by my Department provides payments to farmers who practice farming in an environmentally friendly manner. Additional payments are available to scheme participants who have some or all of their lands in a proposed natural heritage area and agree to farm this area as prescribed by the NPWS. The existing corncrake areas are proposed NHA sites and as such the additional as well as the basic REPS payment is available to REPS participants in such areas.

The Deputy should be aware that when REPS was being devised, it was made clear to the Commission that it would provide for corncrake conservation under the supplementary measure dealing with proposed NHAs. My Department does not operate any other schemes through which corncrake conservation could be provided for.

I am not aware of any recent case made by the IWC in relation to a separate corncrake conservation scheme to be established from 1997 and I have no plans for the establishment of any such scheme.