Thursday, 4 March 2004

Questions (37, 38, 39, 40)

Dan Boyle

Question:

29 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to ensure that 12.5% of structural funds are dedicated to nature conservation including spending for Natura 2000 sites; if payment will be suspended to projects which damage fauna and flora protected under European nature conservation legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7221/04]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

44 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in his role as president of the Council of Ministers, he will ecologically audit the trans-European transport networks guidelines, reject those that would spell disaster for candidate Natura 2000 sites in the accession countries and require that strategic environmental assessment be incorporated into the revised guidelines on the corridor and priority project level. [7225/04]

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John Gormley

Question:

55 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will report on progress being made to pursue as a priority a programme to establish a dedicated fund aimed at encouraging positive and active management of the Natura 2000 network on this, the 25th anniversary of the EU birds directive. [7224/04]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

69 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures to be undertaken in his role as president of the Council of Ministers to ensure that the natural heritage of the countries joining the EU on 1 May 2004 is to be protected through the correct and full implementation of EU nature conservation legislation and effective policy integration. [7226/04]

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 44, 55 and 69 together.

As I have already stated, one of my key priorities for the Irish Presidency is the advancement of the EU's internal environment policy and legislation agenda. This encompasses giving priority to key proposals on nature conservation, including financing for management of Natura 2000 sites. A communication from the Commission on this topic is expected shortly, and I look forward to chairing discussions on the matter in the Environment Council.

It is the responsibility of accession countries to transpose and implement EU directives relevant to nature conservation, and a matter for the European Commission, rather than the Council of Ministers, to ensure compliance with such directives.