Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (199)

Clare Daly


199. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason key environmental stakeholders such as an organisation (details supplied) were not contacted regarding the consultation on the strategy for the Phoenix Park; the reason the OPW did not provide online access to the full report when requested by multiple bodies that highlighted that the lack of access was a barrier to their ability to participate effectively in the consultation; when screening for appropriate assessment under Article 6(3) of the habitats directive was or will be undertaken; when and the way in which the obligations under the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment, SEA, directive will be assessed in view of the timeframes indicated by the OPW for the advancement of planning applications which are perceived to not make it credible that there is an intention to afford the time necessary to address those obligations should they arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23697/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review, which was on display in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, was commissioned to examine how visitors currently experience the facilities on offer within the Phoenix Park. The purpose of this review was to identify areas for potential future enhancement of the Phoenix Park that would improve the visitor experience for all users. It was developed with reference to the core principles of the ‘Conservation Management Plan for the Phoenix Park’, which remains unchanged by this process.

It should be emphasised that the draft review is not a formal development plan or strategy for the Phoenix Park. It is not part of a formal statutory process of any kind. The OPW ensures at all times that it complies in full with all Directives including Article 6(3) of the Habitat's Directive as it applies to the Phoenix Park and this has been taken as a given in undertaking the review.

 The Draft Review was on public display for ten weeks in order to facilitate observations and comments from the public. It was considered that the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre was the best, most centrally located, venue for a public exhibition of information in respect of the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review.  The full Draft Review and an executive summary were also available to view at the Visitor Centre. For those who were not in a position to view the exhibition in person, a comprehensive Executive Summary of the Report and a pdf of all the exhibition panels has been available for download from the Phoenix Park website.  Libraries, community groups, residents associations, schools, sporting bodies, charities and all other interested parties can still download this material for free and share with their members. OPW remains open to, and indeed welcomes, any further observations and comments from any party. The executive summary and detailed information panels were created to provide a clear summation of the key elements of the draft review with which it was hoped that the public would engage. It was believed that this would assist the public in considering the core findings and the ideas proposed in the draft review.

Following a review of the observations and comments received from the public, the OPW will consider how best to advance a strategy of enhancement of visitor experience in the Phoenix Park. Any conservation projects or proposed developments arising from this draft review will be subject to the necessary regulatory and legislative requirements and go through the full planning permission process where necessary.