Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Questions (54)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

54. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the threat that invasive species are posing in County Louth; and the measures being taken to combat same. [24188/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species.

In law, control of invasive species is a matter in the first instance, for landowners. In this regard, my Department carries out considerable work on a national basis controlling invasive species in National Parks and Nature Reserves but has neither the legal ambit nor the resources required to extend such work into urban areas or the wider countryside, and is not in a position at present to provide dedicated funds for such work direct to landowners.

There is significant work, however, being carried out at present by a range of agencies in this area, including a number of local authorities. In addition, the Management of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS), launched in 2016 and led by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, is a €5.5 million project aimed at managing invasive knotweed and other non-native invasive plant species on the national road network and its interactions with regional roads. The project involves collaboration with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS).

While my Department does not collect data from local authorities on the incidence of specific invasive species in their areas, information on the distribution of invasive species in Ireland is available on the invasive species section of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) website at http://maps.biodiversityireland.ie.

Information on general management approaches to invasive plant species is available from the Invasive Species Ireland website:

http://invasivespeciesireland.com/toolkit/invasive-plant-management/

Finally, in 2018 my Department piloted a targeted grant scheme for local authorities to assist with the implementation of actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan. This scheme included a funding stream to specifically target invasive alien species. The scheme has been rolled out again in 2019 with significantly increased funding and local authorities may include in their applications projects that target invasive alien species in their areas. The closing date for receipt of applications was 29th May 2019 and it is envisaged that grants will be allocated to local authorities in the coming weeks.