Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Environmental Policy

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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96. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the progress of the Irish Government’s response to the draft EU Nature Restoration Law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10915/23]

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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Under the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sets out the general objective of reversing biodiversity loss, so that Europe's biodiversity is on the path to recovery by 2030 and that by 2050 all of the EU’s ecosystems are restored, resilient and x adequately protected.

One of the commitments in the Biodiversity Strategy is a proposal for legally binding EU nature restoration targets. The proposed regulation, the nature restoration regulation, aims to fulfil this commitment. It will provide a real opportunity for transformative change in relation to achieving nature restoration in Ireland.

The proposed Regulation provides an opportunity for transformative change in relation to achieving nature restoration in Ireland and the EU as a whole. Nature restoration will also deliver substantial co-benefits for climate action such as carbon emissions reduction from the land use sector, as well as climate adaptation and resilience through the enhancement of natural buffers against flooding and coastal inundation. Furthermore, it will deliver significant co-benefits for the water quality and ecological health of our rivers, lakes and streams.

There will be legally binding restoration targets for a broad suite of terrestrial and marine habitats and species. They will encompass a wide range of land/sea uses including in marine, urban, agricultural and afforested environments, both in State and private ownership – with policy, legislative and sectoral implications across many Government Departments – therefore a whole of Government approach is essential, and engagement and consultation with multiple stakeholders will be necessary.

Once the Regulation is in force, each member state will develop a draft nature restoration plan within 24 months. The plan will specify how targets are to be delivered (by 2030, 2040 and 2050) for each the ecosystems.

The Government agreed last November that The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) would have a national coordination responsibility in respect of the negotiations on the draft Regulation and the development of the National Restoration Plan, assisted by experts from key Government Departments and resourced internally to deliver this function. The NPWS is an executive agency within the Heritage Division of my Department, with specific responsibility for inter alianature conservation and the implementation of various directives relating to Nature.

Work is underway at various levels across Government, including Senior Officials Group, Interdepartmental Working Group and engagement with other Member States, both formally and informally. The involvement of stakeholders is vital to the effective implementation of the Regulation. Stakeholder engagement, including outreach and public consultation, is currently being scoped out by the NPWS.

Continued bilateral engagements with other Member States, with the Commission and with the Presidency, both formally and informally is continuing. This engagement, along with national stakeholder engagement will inform the final national position on the proposed Regulation.


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