Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.

Dick Spring


172 Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the number of locations where her Department is in conflict with potential golf course developments; if legal proceedings have been initiated; if so, the current status of these proceedings; the proceedings, if any, discontinued; and the changes, if any, made in special areas of conservation designation in order to facilitate golf course development. [16875/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss De Valera)

I am the Minister responsible for ensuring the designation and the conservation of special areas of conservation, SACs, under the European Habitats Directive. An important element of that conservation function is the assessment of potential damage that any new development might cause to the integrity of these sites. Golf courses, like other developments, are generally subject to planning permission.

In a limited number of cases it has been found necessary to initiate legal proceedings against unauthorised developments, including two golf courses where injunctions were sought and granted. These particular injunctions are still in force. In one case the matter was referred to the SAC appeals advisory board under the chairmanship of Mr. Michael Mills, the former Ombudsman, which has submitted its recommendation to me recently. I have informed the High Court that I accept this recommendation which is likely to lead to a revision of the status of the injunction. Proceedings have not to date been discontinued in any case.

Where proposed developments, including golf courses, have been consistent with the conservation needs of an area proposed for designation as a natural heritage area (NHA) or SAC, they have been facilitated, often at local level. However, where the scientific evidence indicated that a particular development will cause significant damage to the protected habitat, it cannot be permitted. While the boundaries of some proposed SACs have been revised, these revisions were, in all cases, for scientific reasons and not to facilitate golf courses or any other type of development.