Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ceisteanna (57)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

57. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the overall plan for the special areas of conservation, SAC, designation of raised bogs, such as Abbeyleix bog, County Laois, in view of the importance of its conservation; the timeframe for completion of designation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9850/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, published in December 2017, sets out how the raised bog special areas of conservation are to be managed, conserved and restored and how the needs of turf cutters are to be addressed.

This Plan sets out the national conservation target for active raised bog to be achieved within the raised bog special area of conservation and natural heritage area networks.

The Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area Network was published in January 2014. The review concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured network. This entails:

- The continued designation of 36 existing natural heritage areas - this includes 7 sites to be divided, with part to be conserved and part de-designated;

- The de-designation of 46 natural heritage areas - including the relevant areas of the 7 sites to be divided; and

- The designation as natural heritage areas of 25 currently undesignated raised bogs, which are in public ownership or where there is reduced turf cutting pressure, so as to compensate for the loss of habitat within the sites where it is proposed that turf cutting can be allowed to continue.

I do not propose to identify these 25 sites until I am in a position to apply the relevant legal protections to them.  Compensation will be made available to affected turf cutters from these sites.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016 has been presented to Dáil Éireann and is proceeding through the necessary stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Its purpose is to provide for the implementation of a reconfiguration of the natural heritage area network arising from the 2014 Review.