Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

19 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands whether she will afford protection by way of special areas of conservation designated to those 113 sites of raised bogland identified by the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and notified to her in June 1998 in view of the fact that more than 50 per cent of the EU's resource of conservation-worthy oceanic raised boglands are located in this jurisdiction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17667/98]

To date, my Department has proposed 30 raised bog sites as candidate special areas of conservation, containing approximately 8,000 hectares, in the initial list of sites publicly advertised in 1997. The selection of 30 sites was made on the basis that these were the most important sites and provided a good representation of this habitat in Ireland and this fulfilled our obligation under the directive.

However, I have directed Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, to examine the list proposed by the IPCC, to see whether we should at this stage include any additional sites from that list, if such appears justified for the State to comply with its obligations under the EU Habitats Directive.

When the Irish list for all habitats is complete that list will be discussed at a biogeographical regional seminar, at which Non-Government Organisations, the European Commission, invited experts and my Department will be represented. The commission will base its judgment on whether our proposals are adequate taking into account the discussions at the seminar among other factors.