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National Parks

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (353)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

353. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he is taking to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to examine the establishment of an offshore maritime area as Ireland’s seventh national park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29866/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future contains a commitment to realise our outstanding target of 10% marine protected area (MPA) coverage in Ireland's waters as soon as is practicable, aiming for 30% by 2030 including the examination of an offshore maritime area as a national park. 

In this regard the Government has committed in the Programme for Government to deliver comprehensive legislation for the identification, designation and management of MPAs in Ireland. It is within the framework of such legislation that the Government will deliver the establishment of marine protected areas, including processes for their identification, designation and management. 

As an initial step in the current process, an independent MPA Advisory Group chaired by Professor Tasman Crowe, Director of the UCD Earth Institute, was convened by my Department in 2019. Minister Noonan and I received the final report of this expert group, entitled "Expanding Ireland's Marine Protected Area Network", on 22 October 2020 during EU Green Week.

A public consultation process began on 17 February 2021 and will remain open until 30 July 2021. This includes public consideration of what should be protected (for example, certain species and/or habitat types) and what type(s) of MPAs could usefully be underpinned in the new legislation.

Following this consultation period, and a detailed analysis of the submissions received from all quarters, my Department will commence the development of legislation . This work is expected to begin this autumn, with ongoing development of legislation planned into 2022.

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