Written Answers. - Natural Heritage Areas.

Jim Higgins

Ceist:

45 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if advanced consultation will take place with farmers whose lands are likely to be designated as natural heritage areas; the proposals, if any, he has to provide compensation in respect of land so designated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1219/94]

Jim Higgins

Ceist:

90 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the conditions which will attach to proposed natural heritage areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1218/94]

I wish to take Questions Nos. 45 and 90 together.

The designations recognise the importance of these areas for conservation purposes. The proposed designations place no formal conditions on these areas. It is intended to protect them by obtaining the co-operation and goodwill of landowners and farmers. Farmers are asked not to engage in developments or activities which will damage these areas. It is EU and Government policy not to grant-aid environmentally damaging developments. Planning authorities will be asked not to approve damaging developments. There is no question of compensation being paid as there is no compulsion on landowners but a top-up payment of 20 per cent is available to farmers under the REPS, if any of their land is within an NHA.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has met with the farming and conservation organisations and discussed the designation process with them. Their views have been noted and taken into consideration and their assistance throughout the project is appreciated.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers have contacted a number of farmers directly while assessing sites.

Farmers will not be consulted in advance of designation of sites. NHA sites are selected on scientific grounds on the basis of their importance for conservation. If landowners are concerned that a site should not be designated, they should approach their local Wildlife Officer in the first instance. If there is still disagreement, the landowner may submit a formal appeal.