Dáil Éireann - Volume 602 - 10 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Architectural Heritage.

  463. Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress he is making in securing the future of Ireland’s historic heritage, including great house and heritage properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15164/05]

  Mr. Roche: I refer to the reply to Question No. 220 of 3 March 2005. Statutory protection of the architectural heritage is primarily a matter for the planning authorities to whom my Department provides advice in the exercise of their functions under the Planning and Development Act 2000. In that regard I recently issued the architectural heritage protection guidelines to assist planning authorities in implementing the legislation. These guidelines include the criteria to be applied by planning authorities when selecting proposed protected structures for inclusion in the record of protected structures, as well as other advice for the performance of their functions under Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The guidelines also provide useful information and advice to owners and occupiers of protected structures.

[324] Under the 2000 Act, the Minister may also make recommendations to planning authorities concerning the inclusion in the record of protected structures of any particular building or structure. Based mainly on the results of surveys carried out in the compilation of the national inventory of architectural heritage by my Department, recommendations have to date been made to 54 planning authorities covering more than 11,700 buildings. Inclusion in the record of protected structures places a duty of care on the owners of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers not only to deal with development proposals affecting them but also to seek to safeguard their future.

A range of financial supports is available to the owners of our architectural heritage from local authorities, the Heritage Council and my Department, and from the tax relief available under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Considerable support for architectural heritage is also provided through the ongoing conservation and presentation of the State’s own portfolio of historic properties.

To enhance the protection of our architectural heritage further, I am considering an initiative to develop new methods of supporting the preservation of key heritage buildings. My Department engaged consultants to examine the question of facilitating the emergence of a national trust and other trust-type organisations which might, independently of Government, acquire and manage such heritage properties. My Department is at present evaluating the recommendations of the consultant’s report and I hope to bring proposals to Government in the near future.