Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
229. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the additional funding provided for nature conservation and biodiversity in budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45744/19]
The total funding for my Department allocated in Budget 2020 is €354m – an increase of 5% on 2019 – which represents a cumulative increase of 17% for our culture, language and heritage over the last 2 years. The total funding increase for 2020 is €7.2m in capital expenditure (an increase of 10% on 2019) and over €8m in current expenditure (an increase of 3% on 2019).
Total funding for our Built and Natural Heritage sector in 2020 will amount to €62.5m, up from €54m last year – an increase of over €8m or 15.5% on 2019 – comprising additional capital provision of €6.75m (up 44%) on 2019 and additional current funding of €1.623m.
I have allocated €7m in funding to embark on an accelerated programme of peatlands restoration and conservation works. This programme will result in 1,800 hectares of restored peatland in 2020, generating 100 jobs in the Midlands. It is part of a multi-annual programme which will ultimately lead to the storage of 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Restoration and rehabilitation of raised bogs will provide multiple additional ecosystem services such as water and air quality improvements, flood mitigation, enhancing biodiversity, opportunities for tourism development, and contribute to the social and economic well being of local communities.
I have also provided for an additional €1m to accelerate key nature conservation and biodiversity programmes under the National Parks and Wildlife Service to include the recruitment of front line conservation specialists.
The Biodiversity Grants for Local Authorities scheme which I introduced in 2018 will continue in 2020 with €700,000 allocated to assist local authorities with projects that support actions in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, including those that target invasive alien species in their areas.
The NPWS Farm Plan programme will also be enhanced by doubling the fund available to €1m to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as Special Areas of Conservation in their role as custodians of nature.
I have also ensured that funding is available to continue to support Ireland’s national parks and reserves including the Tourism Interpretative Masterplan under which the Government is investing to enhance visitor centre experiences and facilities.
Over the past year, I have listened carefully to the extensive public debate on biodiversity loss and the threats to nature. The National Biodiversity Conference in Dublin in February, which I hosted, the development of the Seeds for Nature initiative, the wide ranging public debate on the Heritage Ireland 2030 Plan as well as the extensive engagement across Government on Climate Action were instrumental in my securing significant additional resources for this area.