Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Flood Prevention Measures

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal South West, Sinn Fein)
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214. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she is satisfied with the delay in reinstating a sea defence wall in Ards, Creeslough, County Donegal which was destroyed by storms; if she is further satisfied with her Department's stance on having the reinstatement delayed due to planning restrictions and red tape being imposed by her Department; if her attention has been drawn to the costs of this project escalating due to further damage and delays in having this reinstatement completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46531/14]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Ireland, like all EU Member States, is bound by the requirements of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. These Directives ensure the protection of endangered habitats and species, which have been selected for conservation within Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Areas (SPA). Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, which has been considered extensively by Irish and European courts, provides a procedure for the assessment of plans and projects, which may have a significant effect on protected sites. Member States are obliged to undertake this procedure having regard for the relevant jurisprudence of the courts. In undertaking or consenting to works such as those proposed in this case, relevant local authorities must comply with the legal obligations of relevant Directives, as transposed into Irish law.

In the exercise of their functions, all public authorities have a responsibility to ensure the conservation of protected habitats and species and to ensure Ireland’s compliance with our legal obligations. These requirements are enshrined in the Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations 2011 and in the Planning and Development Acts.

I understand that Donegal County Council has undertaken assessments of the proposed work in this case, in relation to its obligations under the Planning and Development Acts and the EU Habitats Directive. I further understand that the Council is of the view that the proposed works require the consent of An Bord Pleanála in accordance with the planning code. During its deliberations on the matter, Donegal County Council contacted my Department for advice and my officials provided observations and advice in a timely manner. As a prescribed body under the Planning and Development Acts, my Department may provide further observations in due course.


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