Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (851)

Seán Haughey

Question:

969 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that Dúchas can carry out its functions properly now that it is under the control of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; if a balance can be maintained in his Department between environmental issues and development issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1638/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Dúchas was the title and brand name of the organisational division of my Department which had responsibility for built and natural heritage functions. Following the change of Government in mid-2002 my Department now has responsibility for policy in respect of the built heritage and for both policy and operational matters relating to the natural heritage. The operational and management functions in relation to the built heritage in State care have transferred to the Office of Public Works.

These organisational arrangements are designed to achieve the optimum use of the organisational resources available to the Government. They build on my Department's strengths in terms of regulation and policy development, particularly in the environmental area, and on the expertise and experience of the Office of Public Works in the areas of conservation and management of the State's property portfolio.

Under the new organisational arrangements, responsibility for built heritage issues has been integrated into a heritage and planning division. Responsibility for nature conservation and biodiversity protection has been assigned to an environmental infrastructure division, which also deals with waste and water policy and infrastructure. The earlier configuration of Dúchas functions has therefore been substantially rearranged and the title of Dúchas as been discontinued.

My Department's objectives under this rearranged structure have been set out in its recently published revised statement of strategy 2003-2005, which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

I am satisfied that, in pursuit of its fundamental mandate for sustainable development, my Department will continue to promote an appropriate balance between development issues and environmental issues both in its own operations and more widely across the public and private sectors.