Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976, as amended, prohibites the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 march to 31 August during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife.
Vegetation such as hedgerows and scrub is important as wildlife habitat and needs to be managed in the interests of both farming and biodiversity. In that regard, a review of the current legislative provisions was initiated to ensure that they remain both effective and balanced.
The submissions received, during a public consultation process on the matter, have been published on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department at http://. Following the end of the public consultation period, I established a Working Group, consisting of officials from my Department, to consider the submissions received and to report back to me with a range of proposals. I expect to announce the outcome of the review in the near future.
Any changes to the closed period for cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, as provided for in section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976-2012, would require amending legislation.
1197. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht which Government Department has overall responsibility for the entry into the State of invasive species, and the control of such species once found here; her views that this is a matter for the North-South Ministerial Council to ensure uniformity across the island of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38372/15]
1209. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for details of the assessment, if any, performed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service on the implications of the Asian clam infestation in the Lough Ree special protection area at Lanesborough in County Longford; the conclusions drawn from this assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38374/15]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1197 and 1209 together.
I refer the Deputy to my replies on this matter, in this House on the 24 September last.
My Department is responsible for the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species.
In general, control of invasive species is a matter for landowners, and my Department carries out considerable work on control of such species in National Parks and Nature Reserves. My Department does not have the resources required to extend such work into the wider countryside, or to provide dedicated funds for such work to other bodies.
A considerable level of co-operation already exists between Departments and agencies in both jurisdictions on this island on the issue of invasive species. For example, my Department worked with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), to fund and manage the Invasive Species Ireland Project which provided substantial advice and guidance on the management of a range of invasive species, which can negatively impact on the environment and on property on the island of Ireland.
Best Practice Management Guidelines for a number of invasive species can be accessed on the project website at . In addition, we are working, through the British Irish Council (BIC), with other Member Administrations on this issue and will host a workshop next year in Dublin on this theme. In the circumstances, I do not consider it necessary to add this topic to the North-South Work Programme at this time.
My Department has not carried out an assessment of the impact of the Asian Clam population on the Lough Ree Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds.
A group of relevant agencies, including the ESB, Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Local Authorities and my Department, have met on several occasions to consider this situation. It is clear that it would be extremely difficult to exterminate it. It is not yet clear to what extent the clam is a threat to Lough Ree.
My Department will continue to work with Inland Fisheries Ireland and other agencies on this problem.