Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.

John Ellis

Question:

70 Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the plans, if any, he has to compensate farmers who are restricted from making full use of their farm as a result of designation as national heritage areas and special areas of conservation; and if he will give details of the compensation package in this regard. [3933/97]

John Ellis

Question:

71 Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and plans, if any, he has to compensate farmers who are refused sanction to plant lands in view of designation as wild life sanctuaries. [3934/97]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together.

The Government has committed itself in the context of the Partnership 2000 agreement to the payment of a fair and proper level of compensation to those affected by the designation of special areas of conservation (SACs), having regard to the level and extent of restriction and all reasonable losses arising as a result of SAC designations, and to the difference between the value pre-designation for environmental purposes and subsequent value on the land consequent of designation as an SAC.

It is estimated that there will be between 10,000 and 15,000 farmers — landowners in the areas proposed for SAC status. The amount and form of compensation that will be payable has for some months been the subject of discussions involving my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and farming organisations. As these discussions are ongoing, it would be premature at this stage to comment on the terms likely to be finally agreed. Until such agreement is reached, it is not possible to say what the cost will come to in 1997.