National Parks and Wildlife Service Expenditure

Ceisteanna (694)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

694. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to ensure that €10 million is allocated for the reopening of the NPWS farm plan scheme for farmers with natura land in budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department has met frequently with farmers' organisations and I am fully aware of their proposals with respect to Budget 2020. The matter is receiving close attention and will be discussed in the normal Estimates process and considered in the context of existing commitments, the overall resources available to the Government and the demands on those resources.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Ceisteanna (695)

John Brassil

Ceist:

695. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the compensation package to landowners under the farm plan scheme which was previously administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; when the scheme will be reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36988/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Farm Plan Scheme, administered by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, is an important instrument that allows for proactive engagement with farmers in designated sites, to trial and deliver bespoke measures that support biodiversity. Plans delivered through the Scheme have been used to inform the development of national Agri-Environment Schemes under the Rural Development Programme, co-financed under the Common Agricultural Policy.

The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme will continue to operate at an appropriate scale to pilot new and innovative approaches for farmland biodiversity.

My Department has met frequently with farmers' organisations and I am fully aware of their proposals with respect to an expansion of the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme. The matter is receiving close attention and will be discussed in the normal Estimates process and considered in the context of existing commitments, the overall resources available to the Government and the demands on those resources.

In addition, officials of my Department continue to liaise with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to the development of the CAP Strategic Plan, which will also have a significant role to play in the delivery of measures for farmland biodiversity in the next operating period.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (696)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

696. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason for the ongoing delays in issuing arrears to a person (details supplied) under the turf cutting compensation scheme in view of the fact they were informed the assessment was completed and successful and that payments would be backdated to 2011; if the matter will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s question. With respect to 53 raised bog special areas of conservation sites, the qualifying criteria for the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period (up to 25 May 2010 in respect of the 29 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation between 1997 and 1999 and up to 31 December 2011 in respect of the 24 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation in 2002);

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

Following processing of the application and various correspondence with the applicant and the Deputy, an annual payment under the scheme issued for the year 2019.

Applicants are advised, when payments issue, that my Department continues to check that all of the qualifying criteria of the scheme have been met and further payments are subject to verification by my Department of the relevant details.

On further examination of the application, it was established that additional information was required. The majority of the requested information and documentation has recently been received. However, further information is awaited from Bord na Móna. Once this information is received, my Department will review the application, in view of the qualifying criteria for the scheme.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (697)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

697. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of applicants, and the amount in arrears still outstanding, by county, under the turf cutting compensation scheme in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason for the ongoing delays in issuing payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was established in 2011 for active turf cutters arising from the cessation of turf cutting on 53 raised bog special areas of conservation. This scheme is comprised of a payment of €1,500 per annum, index-linked, for 15 years, or relocation, where feasible, to a non-designated bog, together with a once-off incentive payment of €500. In 2014, the scheme was extended to active turf cutters from 36 raised bog natural heritage areas. The qualifying criteria of the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period (up to 25 May 2010 in respect of the 29 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation between 1997 and 1999, up to 31 December 2011 in respect of the 24 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation in 2002 and up to 14 January 2014 in respect of the 36 raised bog natural heritage areas);

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

The scheme is still open to applicants and new applications are received on an ongoing basis.

Under the scheme, annual payments are made to qualifying applicants, who apply in years later than the start date, for previous years as well as for the current year. In addition, it takes time for some applicants to demonstrate that they fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme and such applicants also receive annual payments for previous years of the scheme as well as for the current year.

My Department is prioritising the payment of annual payments under the scheme for 2019. The position in relation to payments for previous years will be reviewed subsequently.

Estimated Annual Payments for years prior to 2019 due under the scheme amount to €441,524 in respect of 60 qualifying applicants. A breakdown of this information by county[1] is set out in the following table.

County

Amount of annual payments for previous years

No. of qualifying applicants

Galway

€ 236,540

28

Galway/Mayo

€ 15,165

2

Galway/Roscommon

€ 13,689

2

Kerry

€ 10,623

1

Meath

€ 6,084

1

Offaly

€ 18,207

3

Roscommon

€ 18,207

4

Roscommon/Longford/Westmeath

€ 65,259

7

Tipperary

€ 15,210

5

Westmeath

€ 42,540

7

Total

€ 441,524

60

Subject to compliance, checking and verification, the intention is that these monies will be paid before year end.

[1] Some bogs span a number of counties.

EU Regulations

Ceisteanna (698)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

698. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the regulation to ban lead shot; the details of the proposed regulation; the changes or amendments being considered with regard to same; and the date the regulations will be enforced. [37187/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) was developed under the UN Convention on Migratory Species. Ireland signed up to the Agreement in 2003. The agreement includes a commitment that “Parties shall endeavour to phase out the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands as soon as possible in accordance with self-imposed and published timetables." My Department’s position is to support the AEWA commitment to phase out the use of lead shot over wetlands.

The European Commission has published an initial draft Regulation for consideration by Member States on the use of lead shot in wetlands following a report on the matter by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

It is my understanding that the proposed regulation, should it ultimately progress into law, would make provision for a lead-in time to facilitate the making of arrangements to source alternatives to lead shot. The matter is discussed by the REACH committee of the EU and Ireland is represented at that committee by the Health and Safety Authority.

It is my Department's understanding that the majority of EU Member States currently have some restrictions on the use of lead shot over wetlands and that Ireland is one of a few Member States which have no such restrictions. In the circumstances, my Department is advocating a sufficient lead-in time. It is my understanding that no date has been set for finalisation of work on this Regulation.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (699)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

699. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the grades in which males and females are employed in her Department and the agencies under the remit of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37397/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The grades in which males and females are employed in my Department and the Agencies under the remit of my Department are available at the following link:

Grades and Gender in Dept and Agencies

Agriculture Scheme Penalties

Ceisteanna (700)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

700. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views in relation to a payment for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37586/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department cooperates with the Department in question in an advisory capacity in relation to various payment schemes operated by it, and to measures to assist with conservation and preservation of the habitats and species. In 2016, my Department submitted a cross compliance report to that Department in relation to works carried out on the lands referred to in the question.

Questions relating to the status of those payments are a matter for that Department.

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (701)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

701. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the planning implications, limitations and requirements in relation to a building structure which is not a protected structure under the record of protected structures, but in which the structure is contained in the records of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage only; the planning regulations in the case of such a structure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37610/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).

With regard to procedures for identifying architectural heritage, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) was established by the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1999. Its purpose is to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 architectural heritage of Ireland as an aid in its protection.

As Minister, I can make recommendations to planning authorities for buildings and structures to be included on the Record of Protected Structures and these recommendations arise from the survey of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. However, the final decision as to inclusion of a building or structure on the RPS remains a reserved function of the relevant planning authority.

The inclusion of a structure in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) Building Survey does not confer protected status on that structure. A structure is protected only when it is included on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) in the Development Plan or when it is included within an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) where specific objectives and policies may apply.

Any owner of a structure included in the NIAH Building Survey who may wish to carry out works to that structure should, in the first instance, contact the Architectural Conservation Officer (ACO) or equivalent planning official in their Local Authority to confirm the status of the structure. The ACO should be able to advise if the elected members have considered the Ministerial Recommendation or if a decision is pending. The ACO will also be able to provide advice on what, if any implications this may have in the context of proposed works.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (702)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

702. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if there is funding available to refurbish a boat (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37622/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department operates heritage grant schemes to assist in the conservation of protected structures. These schemes are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund, they are administered through the local authorities and details are available on my Department’s website and on the website of individual local authorities. As these schemes are for protected built heritage structures I must inform the Deputy that the type of project referred to would not be eligible.

I am advised that the Department of Community and Rural Development may have funding available through its Department's LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme. I am informed that the decision to approve a project, or otherwise, is a matter for the Local Action Group (LAG) which administers the programme in each LEADER area. Interested applicants should, in the first instance, contact the relevant LAG through its Implementing Partner to discuss the funding that may be available. The LAG in this instance is Kerry LCDC and its Implementing Partner for the area of Kerry referred to by the Deputy is South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.

Contact details for South Kerry Development Partnership can be found on their website at http://www.southkerry.ie/find-us/.

Oireachtas Joint Committee Recommendations

Ceisteanna (703)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

703. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the way in which she plans to implement the recommendation regarding assigning overall responsibility for peatland conservation and restoration programmes in chapter 8, page 75 of the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37715/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The National Peatlands Strategy 2015 sets out a cross-governmental approach to managing issues that relate to peatlands, including compliance with EU environmental law, climate change, forestry, flood control, energy, nature conservation, planning, and agriculture. It contains a comprehensive set of actions for implementation by various bodies.

The Peatland Strategy Implementation Group is a cross Departmental group which shares an independent chair with the Peatlands Council. The key purpose of the group is to drive the implementation of the vision, values and principles set out in the strategy. The group has made its first progress report to the Government on the implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy. This report has been published and is available on the website of my Department (www.chg.gov.ie).

The Peatlands Council was established for the purpose of ensuring the input from all stakeholders in relation to the protection of Ireland's protected raised bogs.

The Government's Climate Action Plan 2019 (To Tackle Climate Breakdown) contains a series of actions in relation to the better management of peatlands and soils. The Plan is being overseen by a Climate Action Delivery Board within the Department of the Taoiseach, on which my Department is represented.