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Other Questions. - Coastal Zone Management.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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[1472]

 30. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey  the position regarding the establishment of the long promised coastal zone management; when he expects to appoint a senior civil servant from his Department to take charge of this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3494/02]

 70. Mr. Sargent Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent  asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey  the work being done by and the job description of the official or officials in his Department appointed to deal with coastal zone management; the way in which he will address the criticism of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report that this management issue is fragmented in view of the fact that Ireland is losing up to 700 acres of coast each year due to coastal erosion; and when legislation in this area will be enacted. [3652/02]

Mr Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 70 together.

My Department has general responsibility for the regulation and management of the marine coastal zone including foreshore and aquaculture licensing and dumping at sea permits. These functions are currently exercised by the Department's coastal zone administration division. In addition, my Department is responsible for funding the national coastal protection programme in conjunction with the coastal local authorities.

My Department also has general responsibility, in conjunction with other relevant Departments, for the development of an integrated coastal zone management strategy. The key objective of the strategy is the development of new models to address interactions between sectors, agencies and legal frameworks which will deliver a more integrated strategic approach to coastal zone management. This will be taken forward in co-operation with the relevant Departments and agencies including the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.

The strategy will be informed by national and international research and experience to date. It will also take account of the EU recommendation on the implementation of ICZM agreed by the Council of Environment Ministers last October. It will be progressed in tandem with a review of public resource-coastal zone licensing planning and regulatory functions as well as developing a multi-annual strategic approach to coastal protection. The very helpful findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report are being taken fully into account in this review process.

Following recent appointments at assistant secretary level in my Department, the assignment of senior management responsibility for integrated [1473] coastal zone management strategy will be finalised shortly.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell I am glad to hear that the Minister is considering acting on the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, with which my committee dealt on a number of occasions. Will the Minister indicate who is responsible for coastal zone management? The county councils say the Department is responsible, but the Department says the county councils are responsible. Another view is that landowners are responsible for this area. Will the Minister clarify the position?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey The regulation and management of the coastal zone is a matter for the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. A key organisational priority is the devolution of the public resource-coastal zone functions and identifying the future focus of responsibility. The management and funding of the coastal zone is done in consultation with the local authorities and there is a commitment to develop an overall integrated strategy for coastal protection up to 2015.

The Department of the Marine and Natural Resources has responsibility for the foreshore up to the high water mark. The private landowner, or the local authority in the case of public property or roads that approach the seashore, has responsibility for the land from that point.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell I am sorry to labour the point but we have experienced a number of problems in this regard in my own constituency at Annagassan, in Clogherhead, where the county council told landowners there was nothing it could do for them and that it was a matter for them to provide protection against the high tides. Is that the correct interpretation because that is not what the Minister said?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey It is, yes. The private landowner is responsible for his own land and the policy of the Department and the local authorities is that the county council will not get involved in coastal protection work on private property or land. The Department has responsibility for the foreshore up to the high water mark and it is only in the case of, say, a road or other public facility being affected that the Department would be prepared to get involved in any coastal protection work. Unless the private property protection was necessary to prevent further serious erosion of a public road or whatever, it is the landowner's problem. That is probably not the best way forward given that there are coastal erosion problems which we would all like to tackle, but one of the difficulties is that the amount of money involved is significant.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell Would the Minister consider asking his officials to issue some form of clarification to local authorities, particularly county councils, in that regard?

[1474]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey That is not necessary. Every local authority knows that private property cannot be the subject of public expenditure for coastal erosion.


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