Written Answers. - Designated Areas.

Jim Higgins

Question:

76 Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the consideration, if any, she has given the need for compensation, similar to compensation paid to farmers, for registered contractors as a result of the loss of stretches of bogland being designated as natural heritage areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19858/98]

I take it that the Deputy is referring to peatlands which are proposed as special areas of conservation. Natural heritage areas will not have statutory underpinning until the enactment of the Wildlife Amendment Bill which I hope to be in a position to publish during the present Oireachtas session.

Some peatlands have been proposed for designation as special areas of conservation or special protection areas. I have announced that it will be necessary to cease turf cutting in such areas from next year and compensation will be paid to turbary rights holders affected.

Commercial contractors may continue to cut turf in non-SAC bogs. The right of the contractors to trade is not removed and the question of compensation does not arise.