Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Land Issues

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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185. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of programme for Government commitments to complete a land use review ahead of the drafting of a land use strategy and a national soil strategy; if these will be consistent with achieving the objectives of the anticipated EU nature restoration law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16854/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The Programme for Government: Our Shared Future (2020) committed to a land use review to ensure that optimal land use options inform all relevant government decisions. This land use evidence review is also noted in Chapter 17.3.4 (pp 172 and 173) of the Climate Action Plan (Nov 2021).

The review balances environmental social and economic conditions and will involve a process of evaluation of the ecological characteristics of the land, consideration of emissions to air and water, carbon sequestration and climate adaption challenges.

The review is being overseen by a Steering Committee co-chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) . The steering committee is made up of representatives from DAFM, DECC, EPA, DHLGH and independent nominees. The Land use review is being carried out in two distinct phases:

Phase 1is an evidential review and is being led by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and is being guided by a cross-governmental technical steering group. Phase 1 aims to provide an evidence base to determine an appropriate land use indicator set for Ireland, as well as determining the environmental, ecological, and economic characteristics of land types across Ireland.

EPA is working with government departments and public sector colleagues to assess the available evidence in the following areas:

- The impact of current land use on the environment and society

- The indicators we can use to measure land use impacts on environment and society

- Environmental and societal trends that will impact on land use

- Ireland’s land use stakeholders

- Commitments and targets in existing policy that impact on land use decisions

- Land use practices that have proven beneficial to environment and society

In summary, Phase 1 of the national Land Use Evidence Review will gather data and evidence to report on the environmental, ecological, and socio-economic characteristics and considerations for land use and land-based activities across Ireland, including how they interact with each other: with a view to informing the Policy Development ambitions for Phase 2 of the Evidence Review. Phase 1 of the evidence review activity commenced in June 2021 and is scheduled to complete in Quarter 3, 2022.

Building on the evidence Base from Phase 1, Phase 2will identify appropriate policies measures and actions in the context of the governments wider economic, social and climate objectives.

In its resolution of 9thJune 2021 on the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030, the European Parliament strongly welcomed the commitment to draw up a legislative proposal on the EU nature restoration plan, including on binding restoration targets of at least 30% of the EU`s land and seas, to be fully implemented by each Member State throughout their territory, within and outside protected areas, on the basis of biodiversity and ecosystem needs reflecting the country’s specific characteristics. At present, the second phase of the National Land Use review has not yet been finalised, but it will involve consideration of all the relevant National policies and European regulations and directives in its final design as part of the Government's wider economic, social and climate objectives.


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