Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (120)

Michael Creed

Question:

120. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 133 of 5 December 2013 and 121 of 12 December 2013, if the interdepartmental working group to oversee the formulation of a threat response plan dealing with the hen harrier population has yet been established; if he will provide details of the officials involved in the working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14449/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

In preparation for the drafting of a Threat Response Plan for the Hen Harrier, my Department has contracted a raptor specialist to undertake site and wider countryside risk assessments informed by the identification of the current pressures and threats affecting the hen harrier population in Ireland. Since mid-2013, the specialist has been compiling hen harrier related population and habitat data and its analysis to identify gaps in these datasets and in current understanding of ecological processes relating to hen harrier. Informed by this work, my Department is in the process of developing individual sectoral risk assessments and the first of these, focusing on forestry, is on schedule to be delivered by May. This will be followed by similar assessments focusing on agriculture and wind farms. In parallel to this work, detailed habitat maps for the various Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas and being prepared. These are due to be finalised in June. This information will be required to allow the development of appropriate objectives for the Plan.

The interdepartmental working group to oversee the development of the plan will require the products of these various work streams to undertake its task. I will shortly be writing to relevant Ministerial Colleagues requesting nominations from their Departments to sit on the working group and I would envisage that its first meeting will be held shortly thereafter.