My Department is responsible for implementing the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2018, the primary legislation underpinning the protection of biodiversity and nature in Ireland. The Wildlife Acts afford protection to a range of habitats and species and provide for regulation and control of activities that impinge on biodiversity, such as hunting and trade.
The legislative framework in place to protect our natural heritage is further strengthened by the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 SI No 477/2011, which also fall under the remit of my Department. These Regulations transpose the EU Birds Directive and the EU Habitats Directive into national law, and provide for protection of certain habitats and species across the European Union, giving a framework for specific measures to be taken to target areas of concern in each Member State.
The main instruments provided for are the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPA), aimed at the protection of threatened species of birds, and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), aimed at protecting other animal species and habitats. Ireland is required under the terms of the EU Birds Directive to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the protection of endangered species of wild birds.
A programme to identify and designate SPA sites in Ireland commenced in 1985 and a review of the Irish network of SPA sites identified at that time a number of sites that required re-notification. The necessary SPA survey work was undertaken and all of Ireland’s list of over 150 SPAs have been notified to landowners and published in a fashion that is consistent with the requirements of the Birds Directive.
The SPA referred to in the question was selected for designation as it met a number of conditions relating to protection of listed species. Sites can only be designated on solid scientific grounds, where there is evidence-based justification for doing so.
There are no plans in my Department, at this time, to undertake further scientific surveys in the SPA concerned.