I regret that there are no funds available to my Department to support the work of the Bantry Bay charter. EU funding for the charter ended in 2000. I understand that Cork County Council agreed to meet the cost of the project through the years 2001 and 2002. The charter advised me, however, that Cork County Council would no longer be in a position to meet the full costs of the charter office on an ongoing basis beyond February 2003. The charter, therefore, put forward a proposal that its costs be met by a number of public bodies. In addition to my Department, it also sought funding from my colleagues, the Ministers for the Environment and Local Government and Agriculture and Food, as well as Cork County Council and Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners. I am aware that my colleague, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has advised the charter that it might pursue the possibility of funding for the project through the LEADER programmes.
I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the very useful work undertaken by the charter, and to assure all concerned that, in developing integrated coastal zone management at a national level, careful account will be taken of the pioneering work in Bantry.