Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (20)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

20. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 47 of 6 March 2014, if there are further methods of conservation recognised by the State and the European Union that could be employed to strengthen the unique and special status of the Howth Peninsula, Baldoyle Bay and the Velvet Strand, Portmarnock. [17785/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Ireland, along with all other member states of the European Union, is obliged under the Habitats and Birds Directives to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for the protection of important habitats and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the protection of birds. These sites are known collectively as Natura 2000 and are selected subject to certain criteria laid out in the Directives. Areas may also be designated as Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) under the Wildlife Act.

Ireland’s network of Natura 2000 sites is largely complete at this stage and I have no intention to propose further areas for designation at the location referred to by the Deputy, which already has a number of such sites, including Baldoyle Bay and Howth Head Coast SPAs, as well as Baldoyle Bay and Howth Head Coast SACs. While the designated areas do not cover the entirety of the Velvet Strand area referred to in the Deputy's Question, a portion of that area is within the Baldoyle Bay SAC.

While designation under the Birds and Habitats Directives, or under the Wildlife Act, focuses on the nature protection issues, there are also additional mechanisms available to local authorities under the planning code to protect areas. For example, local authorities, in drawing up their development plans under the Planning Acts, have a broader responsibility for protecting high amenity areas from inappropriate development. In this regard, I understand that a portion of Howth Head is subject to a Special Amenity Area Order under the planning code.

Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 16.