Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Question 575: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 436 of 2 November 2011 and 323 of 21 June 2011, when he now expects an application for an aquaculture licence to be processed and a decision communicated to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9580/12]
The application referred to is in respect of a site located within Ardgroom Harbour, Kenmare Bay which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive (Natura 2000 site).
All applications in 'Natura' areas are required to be appropriately assessed for the purpose of environmental compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. My Department, in conjunction with the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is engaged in a comprehensive programme to gather the necessary baseline data appropriate to the conservation objectives of 'Natura' areas. This data collection programme is substantially complete. Data analysis of the data, together with the setting of appropriate conservation objectives by the NPWS, will enable all new, renewal and review applications to be appropriately assessed for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. This work represents a significant financial, administrative and scientific investment by the State in resolving this issue. The Appropriate Assessment of aquaculture applications is being dealt with on a bay-by-bay basis.
Addressing the issue of aquaculture licensing in Natura 2000 areas is a key priority for my Department and you can be assured that every effort is being made to expedite the determination of this aquaculture licence application having regard to all the complexities involved.