Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (192)

Áine Collins

Question:

192. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if farmers who are not allowed forestation on their lands because of the hen harrier will be compensated. [44914/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The implementation of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, under which Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated, is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is commencing the development of a Threat Response Plan (TRP) for the conservation of the hen harrier. The plan is expected to take approximately two years to complete and forestry will form a significant element of the Plan. The Forest Service will be liaising closely with the NPWS in the formulation of the TRP on aspects relating to afforestation, felling and replanting. It is also understood that the NPWS will engage in a formal public consultation process in relation to the Plan, which it will announce at the appropriate time.

As development of the TRP progresses, and in advance of its completion, opportunities may arise – possibly in late 2014 - to pursue an interim arrangement to allow for the limited issuing of afforestation approvals in some hen harrier SPAs. Until then, the Forest Service will not be in a position to approve any afforestation projects within these SPAs. My Department does not provide compensation for the consequences of such designations.