Wildlife Bill, 1975 [Seanad Bill Amended by the Dáil]: Report and Final Stages.

This is a Seanad Bill which was amended by Dáil Éireann. Accordingly, the procedure in relation to it will be the same as that for the two similar Bills dealt with earlier today. As in the case of the other Bills, I have arranged for the printing and circulation of a list of the amendments made by the Dáil.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration".

Amendments Nos. 1 and 11 are related. Their purpose is simply to provide an Irish title for the Wildlife Advisory Council to be established under section 13.

Amendments Nos. 2, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 55 and 56 are related and I will deal with them together. The purpose of Amendment's Nos. 2, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17 is to provide that, in addition to notifying the planning authority, the Minister shall also notify An Bord Pleanála of the establishment of specially protected areas such as nature reserves and refuges for fauna. Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 provide that the board be notified of any regulations made, varied or revoked by the Minister regarding access to or use of such areas. Amendment No. 3 is an obvious technical amendment necessitated by the enactment of the 1976 Planning Act.

Amendments Nos. 4, 41, 43 and 44 are related and I will deal with them together. Their purpose is to provide that the business of taxidermy, which can provide a potential outlet for private collections of rare or threatened species of wildlife, will be conducted under licence granted by the Minister in the same way as other wildlife dealings such as the sale of game.

Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and I will deal with them together. They are essentially drafting amendments in order to make it absolutely clear that the orders which the Minister may revoke or amend under section 8 do not include voluntary land purchase orders made under section 55 or court orders referred to in sections 75, 76, 77 and 78.

Amendment No. 7 is to clarify that the requirement that orders made by the Minister must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas does not extend to an order bringing the Act or part of the Act into operation or to voluntary land purchase orders made under section 55.

Amendment No. 8 is no more than a change of word in order to give flexibility.

With regard to amendment No. 9, following further consultation with the Department of Finance, it was agreed that subsection (4) of section 11 imposed an unnecessary obligation on the Minister in the performance of his functions and should be deleted.

Amendment No. 10 is necessary to take account of the amendment of Parts III, IV and V of the 1963 Local Government (Planning and Development) Act by the 1976 Act of the same title, and of the planning appeal functions to be vested in An Bord Pleanála under the 1976 Act.

Amendment No. 14 is to cater for subsequent amendments of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.

The purpose of Amendment No. 18 is to make provision for licensing a person to do reasonable acts which are neither scientific nor educational but which could interfere with or alter the habitat of protected flora, though not to any significant extent, for example, taking sand or gravel from a habitat of flora without damaging or disturbing the habitat to any appreciable extent.

Amendment No. 19 is necessary in order to take account of import restrictions imposed by section 52.

Amendment No. 20 is made necessary by the recent enactment of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1976. Section 40 (b) of that Act amendment section 46 (i) of the 1963 Planning Act, referred to in section 21 (8).

Amendments Nos. 21 and 24 are related and I will deal with them together. The purpose of Amendment No. 21 is to exempt from the prohibition in section 22 (4) the disturbance or unintentional injuring or killing of a protected wild bird in the course of ornithology. Amendment No. 24 provides a consequential safeguard against any abuse of this exception.

Amendments Nos. 22, 28 and 37 are related and I will take them together. The basic amendment is Amendment No. 37 which exempts from the prohibition in subsection (1) of section 32 acts which are lawful under other statutes.

Amendments Nos. 22 and 28 are purely drafting amendments being made for consistency with the wording of amendment No. 37. Amendments No. 23 and 26 are cognate and I will take them together. They are mere drafting amendments to put beyond doubt that the wild birds in question are protected wild birds.

Amendments Nos. 25 and 30 are cognate and I will take them together. During the Committee Stage debate in the Seanad—Volume 83, No. 1, columns 47-50—Senator W. Ryan tabled amendments for the same basic purpose as these amendments. He subsequently withdrew them and my predecessor undertook to introduce suitable amendments in the Dáil. These are the amendments now in question. They are to meet a situation where there is sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution for a hunting offence under section 22 or section 23 but it is not possible to establish with certainty where precisely the alleged offence was committed nor, consequently, the appropriate District Court district for jurisdiction purposes.

Under the District Court rules, summary proceedings for offences under these sections in the circumstances of doubt to which I have referred could only be taken in the court area wherein the accused resides. This could prove very inconvenient for witness in certain instances, and the effect of these amendments is that such proceedings could be taken in any District Court district.

Amendments Nos. 27 and 29 are cognate and I will deal with them together. The purpose of amendment No. 27 is to exempt a person who disturbs or unintentionally injures or kills protected wild animals while he is engaged in zoological studies or other scientific pursuit. Amendment No. 29 provides a consequential safeguard against any abuse of the exemption. Amendment No. 31 is just a minor drafting amendment.

Amendments Nos. 32 and 34 are cognate and I will deal with them together. Amendment No. 32 provides a necessary cross-reference to the renewal by the Minister of hunting licences under subsection (6). Amendment No. 34 provides that a person applying to the Minister for the renewal of a hunting licence must make a formal declaration of his qualifications in accordance with section 28 as if he were applying for a licence for the first time. This is necessary to cover any change in circumstances in the meantime, for example, a change in the location of the area over which the applicant has secured shooting rights.

Amendments Nos. 33 and 35 are cognate and I will deal with them together. Their purpose is to remove doubt as to the meaning of the endorsement on a firearm certificate for a shotgun issued to a resident sportsman. The purpose of the endorsement is to transform the firearm certificate for the shotgun into a licence to hunt and kill, first of all specified game birds during an open season for such birds and, secondly, hares during an open season for hares, provided the open season order under section 25 permits of the killing of hares by shooting.

Amendment No. 36 is a technical amendment to delete the words "trap gun". Modern meaning and usage is such that the term "spring gun" comprehends a trap gun, whereas a trap gun is now generally understood to be the under-and-over type shotgun which would be an appropriate weapon for hunting game birds. Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 are cognate. Their purpose is to extend the restrictions on burning growing vegetation near certain vulnerable areas to lands which are the subject of special management agreements made under section 18.

Amendments Nos. 40, 61 and 62 are cognate and I will deal with them together. The purpose of these three amendments is to make clear that the offences in question in section 44 (4) and in section 70 (1) and (2) are summary offences. Indictable offences are prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Amendment No. 42 is a very fine technical amendment made to exempt the possession of a protected species of fauna by a person who had lawfully acquired it.

Amendments Nos. 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 64, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71 and 76 are related and I will deal with them together. The purpose of these amendments is to clarify that wherever "parts" of fauna or flora or wild animals and plants are mentioned in the relevant sections, namely, sections 52, 53, 72, 73 and 75, it will extend to products of such fauna and flora, such as manufactured articles. Amendment No. 53 is a minor drafting amendment. Amendment No. 54 is to provide that regulations made by the Minister under section 59 in relation to lands held by any board which may be established under section 14 shall cease to have effect not only if the board is dissolved, but also if the board otherwise cease to hold the lands, for example, if they sell the lands.

Amendments Nos. 57, 59 and 60 are related and I will deal with them together. Their basic purpose is to cover the powers of the Garda and authorised persons acting under warrant under section 73, as well as their powers under section 72. Amendment No. 60 in addition extends parts of specimens of fauna or flora to include products of them, such as manufactured items. Amendment No. 58 is self-explanatory and is a desirable drafting amendment. Amendment No. 63 is a drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to remove an anomaly in section 71 by covering licences and permissions which have been granted or issued otherwise than under the Bill. Amendments Nos. 68 and 74 are cognate and are purely drafting amendments necessary to correct faulty typographical layout of parts of sections 72 and 73 respectively.

Amendments Nos. 72 and 73 are cognate and I will take them together. They are really drafting amendments in order to clarify that the phrase "if need be by force" relates only to entering and searching premises under warrant and not to the other matters—the subject of sub-paragraphs (ii), (iii) and (iv) of section 73 (2). Amendment No. 75 in its effect extends the stiffer penalty provisions of section 74 (2) to cover lands which are the subject of special management agreements made under section 18. Amendment No. 77 is to correct an obvious printing error. Amendment No. 78 is to remove a certain ambiguity of meaning in Article 15 of the Second Schedule.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I should like to thank the Seanad for the earnest way in which they have approached and dealt with this Bill since it was introduced here. Indeed, I might say that the extensive list of amendments made during the Committee Stage debate in the Seanad has considerably improved the Bill. The enactment of this Bill will provide my Department with a most valuable and necessary statutory backing for their work in the field of wildlife conservation. It is my earnest hope and wish that the new powers will in time make up any leeways that may have occurred in that sphere.

The main principle which the Bill espouses is a reasonable balance between man's progress and impact on his environment and the conservation of our natural resources of wild fauna and flora. For that reason I am confident that its provisions will find general acceptance and support.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 6.35 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 16th December, 1976.