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Written Answers. - Natural Heritage Areas.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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[1870]

 42. Miss Coughlan Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan  asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  the compensation package being formulated by his Department for farmers whose lands are classified as natural heritage areas and, as a consequence, are ineligible for grant aid for afforestation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10005/96]

 49. Mr. O'Malley Information on Desmond J. O'Malley Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  when natural heritage areas will be designated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12157/96]

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 49 together.

It is proposed to provide a statutory basis for natural heritage areas in a Bill to amend the Wildlife Act, 1976. The Bill is at present being drafted and I hope to introduce it in the Oireachtas in the autumn. It is Government and EU policy to grant-aid only developments which are compatible with protecting the environment. The National Parks and Wildlife Service — NPWS — of my Department advises grant-aiding bodies as to whether or not particular developments, such as forestry, are compatible with protecting the environment.

Under the rural environment protecttion scheme, implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, farmers are paid to farm their land in an environmentally friendly way. They receive a top-up on the basic payment if they have land in a proposed natural heritage area provided it is managed according to NPWS prescriptions.


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