Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
My understanding of this amendment is that it provides that the Minister shall lay a report before both Houses of the Oireachtas containing guidelines and recommended thresholds in relation to the exercise of turbary rights, including a definition, or definitions, of “household use”.
The focus of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and her Department, is and will be on the management, conservation and restoration of the special areas of conservation, SAC, and NHA networks, which contain bog habitats. In budget 2020, €7 million made up of the carbon and the environment funds has been allocated to embark on an accelerated programme of peatland restoration and conservation works.
As I already mentioned, I understand that the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has advised that the development of a new regulatory framework for smaller scale peat extraction will be initiated and progressed. Guidelines and recommended thresholds in relation to the exercise of turbary rights could come within the development of this framework.
Therefore, I have some concerns as to whether it would be appropriate for the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to produce the report as requested by Senators. I understand the principle behind the amendment and I will request departmental officials to liaise with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on the matter.
I am prepared to accept the amendment on the understanding that an amendment on the matter in the name of the Minister may need to be moved when the Bill returns to the Dáil.