Thursday, 23 June 2022
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
17. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the position regarding progress on the appointment of biodiversity officers at a local authority level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33172/22]
The Programme for Government includes a commitment to ensure that each local authority has a sufficient number of biodiversity officers and heritage officers among their staff complement. The role of a biodiversity officer is prescribed at local level by the employing local authority. Biodiversity officers are the public face of biodiversity-related activities within the local authority, commissioning biodiversity surveys, implementing community related projects to improve the status of biodiversity in the local authority area, and organising relevant public events. Biodiversity officers advise local authorities in relation to their obligations with regard to national and local biodiversity policies, programmes and priorities.
There are currently five biodiversity officers employed in the following local authorities:
Fingal County Council;
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Dublin City Council
Galway City Council
Kerry County Council.
My Department is committed to supporting local authorities in the important role they play in the implementation of actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan. In that context, €600k has been allocated in 2022 towards the programme, with six officers to be recruited this year and a further roll out in 2023/24. The programme is currently under development and will be delivered by the Heritage Council and County and City Management Association, with the support of my Department. Expressions of interest for participation in the pilot will be advertised by the Heritage Council in early July and it is expected that participating Local Authorities will begin recruiting in August.