Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (92, 93)

Trevor Sargent

Question:

79 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which he proposes to act on the Government’s commitment to provide a biological record centre for Ireland in view of the ongoing loss of biodiversity at sea and on land here. [27584/04]

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Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

110 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the proposed national biological records centre was allocated to Waterford; his views on whether the procedure by which this site was chosen was satisfactory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27331/04]

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 110 together.

The national biodiversity plan, published in April 2002, contained a commitment to put in place a national biological data management system to be co-ordinated by a national biological records centre. Subsequently, in December 2003, the Heritage Council, pursuant to sections 6 and 7 of the Heritage Act 1995, recommended to the previous Minister the establishment of a national biological records centre. In May 2004, the Minister responded, welcoming the council's initiative and requesting it to give more detailed consideration to issues such as funding, the composition of a management board and possible choices of location.

In June 2004, the Heritage Council recommended that the records centre be located in Waterford, under the aegis of the Heritage Council and in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology. The council's choice of location was supported by the emergence of an environmental node in the south east, including the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Heritage Council's own location by elements of the Government's decentralisation proposal, and by the capacity of Waterford Institute of Technology to bring state of the art IT and administrative support as well as a strong environmental pedigree to a partnership. In September 2004, the then Minister, having received further details from the Heritage Council on aspects of finance, governance, procurement and logistical matters, accepted the council's recommendations regarding the proposed location of the records centre subject to an appropriate contract between the Heritage Council and the institute which specified the infrastructure and facilities which the institute would provide and relevant performance indicators for the delivery of the contract.

The Heritage Council is working, in consultation with my Department, on the early finalisation of outstanding issues, including the structure of a management board and the arrangements for funding the centre.