I am aware that this site, comprising a historic house and estate of some 5,000 acres, has been offered for sale, with a reported asking price in the region of €28 million.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has no direct role in this sales process as it is a commercial matter between the owners of the property in question and the parties interested in the purchase.
Through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht manages a property portfolio in respect of national parks and reserves of approximately 87,000 hectares. These important biodiversity areas are located all around the country. Given the limited resources available for capital investment within the national parks and nature reserves, I recognise the need to focus on the core responsibilities relating to the management of the existing parks and reserves' lands. The estate at Luggala would be a significant addition to our stock of publicly owned heritage properties and lands. It provides a central connection between disparate parts of our Wicklow mountains' national park.
My Department could only consider acquiring this property if the price fell to within a certain range, or in the context of a donation or bequest. This is known to the vendors. In this context, I also remind the House that in late 2016 my Department negotiated the extension of Wicklow mountains national park by purchasing almost 4,900 acres of Dublin uplands at Glenasmole in 2016 at a cost of just €800,000.
Wicklow mountains national park and Glendalough are amongst our most beloved and popular heritage jewels. The Luggala Estate has allowed a permissive access to a hugely popular walking route down to Lough Dan for many decades and I hope this would continue under any new ownership arrangements. Furthermore, the estate has been an excellent neighbour to the national park, working closely with it on habitat management and the promotion of our stunning Wicklow mountains for tourism, film-making and amenity. It is my wish that this close co-operation would continue too in future.