Dáil Éireann - Volume 511 - 23 November, 1999

Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.

285. Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 351 of 9 November 1999, she will provide a copy of the scientific statement provided by Dúchas to An Bord Pleanála; the author, authors and date of the statement; the date on which it was supplied to An Bord Pleanála; and if it considered annex II species and annex I habitats listed for protection in the European Habitats Directive. [24149/99]

286. Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 351 of 9 November 1999, she will provide a copy of the criteria referred to requiring listed annex I habitats to be present to protect listed annex II species which is used by Dúchas to propose special areas of conservation sites for V. angustior under the Habitats Directive. [24150/99]

287. Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands further to Parliamentary Question No. 351 of 9 November 1999, the date on which Dúchas did not accept the recommendations of the conchologist contracted by it in January 1999 to survey mollusc at the White Strand-Doonbeg special area of conservation and national heritage area and the recommendations of Dúchas invertebrate specialist (details supplied); and if she will furnish any documentation in which this decision and the scientific grounds for this decision are recorded. [24151/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 to 287, inclusive, together.

I have arranged for Dúchas, the Heritage Service of my Department to provide the Deputy with a copy of the scientific statement directly. The relevant dune expert together with the relevant administrative staff in Dúchas prepared this statement. The statement is a justification of the boundary adopted for the Carrowmore Dunes candidate SAC site. The site was proposed as a dune SAC. It also contains other interests, including V. angustior. The protection of the dune habitat in this area will also ensure the conservation of the mollusc. The statement was prepared in March 1999 and provided to An Bord Pleanála in April 1999. The position of V. angustior was dealt with in the environmental impact assessment and was the subject of special conditions relating to its protection imposed on the developer by An Bord Pleanála.

The criteria referred to by the Deputy set out that the literature be reviewed, that the sites be [699] visited and that, following site visits, all sites be proposed for SAC designation, other than where habitat deterioration has occurred to such an extent that the survival of the species cannot be ensured. In implementing those criteria, it has been practice to exclude land where the population numbers are unsustainable or where Annex 1 habitat is not present.

The V. angustior report the Deputy refers to found that “Any invertebrate known from “5 or less” 10km squares in the State would automatically be classified as threatened with extinction, so protection of these nine sites plus Doonbeg could not be regarded as providing any more than a minimal population resource…”. The nine sites, together with the Carrowmore Dunes candidate SAC, provide evidence of the species in much more than the level suggested as appropriate to be classified as threatened with extinction, (i.e. “five or less” ten km squares).

I understand that Dúchas management examined that report, its recommendations and the recommendations of its own invertebrate expert, and following discussion came to the following conclusions:

1.The Whitestrand/Carrowmore Marsh candidate SAC was originally proposed as a dune habitat site; however only the Carrowmore Dunes candidate SAC had an intact dune system.

2.The mollusc is present in the proposed NHA and the candidate SAC.

3.All other candidate SAC sites proposed for the mollusc also contained habitats listed in the Habitats Directive.

4.The report stated that properly managed golf course is preferable to the then current land usage from the perspective of the mollusc.

5.A sufficient number of sites were already proposed for this species for inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network to meet the requirements of the Directive.

6.The maintenance of the favourable conservation status of V. angustior at Doonbeg could be more readily guaranteed by entering into a management agreement with a single owner, with a substantial vested interest in ensuring its protection, rather than applying legal constraints to a larger number of landowners with no vested interest.

Accordingly it was decided to retain the Carrowmore Dunes site as a candidate SAC, with the additional interest of V. angustior included in the Natura 2000 form, and to safeguard V. angustior in the area of the proposed development through a management agreement with the developers. The actual date of the decision is not recorded. The developers have agreed to enter into an appropriate management agreement with Dúchas to ensure the protection of V. angustior in the area proposed for development.

[700] 288. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands when compensation will be paid to the owners of bog banks at Mullagh Bog, Mullagh, County Cavan; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a preservation order was served on this bog and the inconvenience this has caused the users; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24405/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): I assume the Deputy is referring to the designation of this bog as a special area of conservation. I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 344 of 16 Samhain 1999.