Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (287, 288)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

287. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his attention has been drawn to the land erosion on traditional walking paths on the mountain ranges here; if he will confirm that it is his intention to establish proper developed pathways in order to prevent the erosion from the increased footfall of hill walkers and in particular the use of bikes, motorbikes and quad bikes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12099/14]

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Eric J. Byrne

Question:

288. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the increase in participation by walkers using for recreational purposes the magnificent mountain ranges of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, if he is satisfied that he has sufficient funds to develop pathways to alleviate the erosion that is occurring on this mountain range; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12104/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 and 288 together.

My Department actively encourages visitors to its properties, which include National Parks and Nature Reserves. To facilitate enjoyment of the properties, my Department has developed a number of dedicated trails and boardwalks, and within the resources available, these are maintained on a regular basis. Such works include the clearing of drains to prevent erosion.

The use of motorbikes and quads is not permitted in National Parks such as Wicklow Mountains National Park. More generally, I have power under Regulation 29 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 to make directions for the prohibition, except where my consent has been obtained, of specified activities that may damage European sites or other sensitive areas. I have issued some 14 such directions addressing some 18 locations, including in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains. Many of these relate to the use of quads, bikes and motorbikes at the sites concerned.

My Department will continue to develop walking trails in National Parks and Nature Reserves for visitors, where resources allow.