I propose to take Questions Nos. 254 and 257 together.
My role, as Minister, with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners of heritage assets.
Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including relevant structures on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.
I also have a role, as Minister, as a prescribed body under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2015 whereby development proposals that may impact on our built heritage are referred by planning authorities to my Department so that recommendations can be made, as appropriate, to avoid or mitigate any such impacts.
My Department has a number of measures at its disposal to facilitate the maintenance and restoration of historical or cultural sites. As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2014 of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites and in such cases there is a statutory duty to maintain the national monument. Such maintenance is undertaken by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Local authorities are responsible under the National Monuments Acts for maintaining the national monuments of which they are owners or guardians.
My Department’s National Monuments Service works in close collaboration with the OPW on survey, excavation and research work to optimise the protection, management, interpretation and presentation of national monuments in State care.
The National Monuments Service of my Department provides archaeological advice to the OPW on a routine basis and also with regard to the OPW Flood Relief Scheme, to ensure the appropriate protection of archaeology in the context of flood relief. All works at or in the vicinity of a national monument – to include any works to mitigate water damage - are required to be notified to the Department, which ensures that appropriate controls are put in place for the protection of the site.
Officials of my Department meet regularly with their OPW counterparts to devise and agree shared policy approaches to areas of mutual interest, to review operational priorities while also working closely together on a day-to-day basis in relation to individual projects.
Under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts, my Department has established and maintains the Record of Monuments and Places, which affords legal protection to all recorded archaeological sites and monuments in the State. Anyone proposing works to, at or in the vicinity of a monument that is included in the Record of Monument and Places must give the Department two months prior notice before works can start.
My Department also provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), both administered by local authorities.
The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is a scheme for the repair and conservation of structures that are on the local authority Record of Protected Structures. It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals. The Historic Structures Fund 2019 is for conservation and enhancement to heritage structures and historic buildings, in both private and public ownership, for the benefit of communities and the public.
On 28 March, I announced funding of €4.3 million to 478 projects under these schemes, of which €104,000 was awarded to projects in County Kildare.
Receipt of applications for both the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund is now closed, however on-going queries can be addressed to all respective local authorities who implement both schemes.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage is a state initiative to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 built heritage of Ireland, uniformly and consistently as an aid to its protection and conservation. The NIAH building surveys provide the basis for my recommendations, as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to the planning authorities for the inclusion of particular structures in their Record of Protected Structures. The published surveys are a source of information on the selected structures for relevant planning authorities. They are also a research and educational resource.