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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 226-233
 Header Item Business Parks
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Wildlife Protection
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Commemorative Events
 Header Item Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme Expenditure

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 868 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 226-233

Business Parks

 226. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans regarding a business park (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7495/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Deputy will appreciate the constraints that apply in replying to a "details supplied" Question of this nature.

  I am fully aware of the importance of the availability of high quality and affordable services of the nature referred to by the Deputy. I understand that the relevant service provider has indicated that it intends to upgrade its existing infrastructure, resulting in a significant increase in service at the business park in question. I am advised that the upgrade is scheduled to be completed by September 2015.

  I share the views of the Deputy on the importance of services of the nature referred to by the Deputy in business parks in the Gaeltacht and I will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders in this regard.

Departmental Funding

 227. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7497/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In July 2012, a Steering Group involving representatives of the key stakeholders in the project referred to by the Deputy was convened and charged with the planning and development of the project. The Steering Group meets regularly and good progress is being made on bringing this complex multifaceted project to fruition.

Because of the associated ecological issues, the task of delivering the project will require careful consideration and planning. To ensure that the project is delivered as efficiently and quickly as possible, it has been broken down into various modules, which will allow the advancement of some sections, while the necessary consultations, assessments and planning and any land acquisitions as may be required for the more complicated aspects of the plan are moved along in parallel.

On 29 January 2015, the local authority granted permission, with some conditions, to my Department for the provision of an access route and car park in connection with the development of the project.

Departmental Funding

 228. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7514/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The project referred to by the Deputy commenced in July 2014. The European Union has agreed to provide almost 50% co-funding for this €5 million project, which is being led by my Department in partnership with relevant stakeholders.

The project team was appointed late last year and is now established in offices at the location referred to in the Deputy's Question. The team will work in collaboration with members of the farming and forest-owning communities in the relevant catchments on a wide range of conservation actions over the remaining 5 years of the project. Participation by local farm and forest owners in the project will be entirely voluntary.

Important outreach initiatives will also be undertaken to add value to local enterprises and raise awareness amongst the local communities. To that end, a project website will be established in the coming weeks and more detailed information will be available there in due course.

Wildlife Protection

 229. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the numbers of seals in Irish waters; her views that seal population numbers may be posing a threat to other species numbers such as wild salmon; if the matter is receiving attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7515/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys There are two species of seal in Irish waters - the Harbour or Common Seal and the more numerous Grey Seal. Both are protected under the EU Habitats Directive and Ireland is obliged to monitor their populations and report to the European Commission on their conservation status. A standardised monitoring programme has been in place for both species since 2009. The most recent report on their conservation status was submitted to the European Commission in June 2013 and is available on the website www.npws.ie.

  The current national minimum population estimate for Grey Seal, derived from survey data gathered in 2009-2012, is 7,284-9,365 animals. There is some evidence of a modest level of population growth in this species over the past 10 years. Overall, however, numbers in Ireland remain low compared with the UK.

  Comprehensive nationwide surveys for the Harbour Seal have been undertaken on two occasions - in 2003 and 2011-2012 - in order to provide minimum population estimates for the country as a whole and to update information on the national distribution of the species. The 2011-2012 data produced a national minimum estimate of 3,489 Harbour Seals. While this is slightly higher than the 2003 estimate, variability in breeding success between sites and between years does not allow for a robust population trend to be determined at this stage.

  Seals have a broad diet which varies depending on fish species availability. Studies of the interactions between seals and salmon are ongoing at Inland Fisheries Ireland. The outcomes of this research, together with recently published studies from Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute concerning seal depredation (fish eaten by seals during fisheries operations) and bycatch of seals in set nets, will require careful consideration. All of these studies will continue to inform policy in relation to seal protection.

Departmental Correspondence

 230. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a matter (details supplied) in County Kerry has been progressed by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7545/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I understand officials of my Department facilitated an initial meeting with the group in question in May of last year in order that the group could outline their proposals. The group were advised to submit a formal proposal for my Department's consideration. My Department awaits receipt of this proposal, and remains wiling to engage with the group should they wish to progress the matter.

Planning Issues

 231. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a matter (details supplied) in County Kerry has been progressed by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7546/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department is not currently considering any application in respect of the development in question. It is my view that such a development would require planning consent in accordance with the Planning and Development Acts. Under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, I am precluded from exercising consent functions where such functions fall under the responsibility of another public authority.

Commemorative Events

 232. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to run a programme of activities to mark the centenary of the birth of a noted author; the reason no reply was sent on correspondence regarding this matter to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7576/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has been charged with the co-ordination of commemorative events constituting the centenary programme, which is a comprehensive exploration of the period from 1912 keeping pace with the centenary timeline. These have focused on events commemorating for example, aspects of the Irish Revolutionary Period including the Home Rule Bill; Cumann na mBan; the Howth gun-running, the 1916 Rising, as well as events to commemorate the outbreak and progress of World War 1.

My Department has received proposals to support many events and programmes and it is not possible to support them all, and this is the position in this case. It should be noted that the outline proposal was raised with the Expert Advisory Group of historians on 27 January last.

My Department is issuing a reply to the person concerned.

Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme Expenditure

 233. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the amount of funding, by county, provided to local authorities in 2015, for the Structures at Risk Programme; the amount allocated to the Heritage Council to provide to local authorities for the preservation of protected structures in 2015; the amount of money provided, under the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme 2015; if she will provide details of other funding to be provided to local authorities for privately owned protected structures in 2015; broken down by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [7577/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys On 9 February last, I announced an allocation of €624,000 for the Structures at Risk Fund 2015, to enable conservation works to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership, which are protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000, as amended, and are deemed to be at significant risk of deterioration. This Fund, which will be administered through the local authorities, encourages the regeneration and reuse of heritage properties and helps to secure the preservation of protected structures, which might otherwise be lost. The Fund is open to two applications per local authority, of which only one application may be in respect of a publicly-owned building. The amount of funding available per project will be subject to a minimum level of €15,000 and a maximum level of €60,000. Final details of projects funded will be made available once all applications are received by the local authorities and assessed by my Department. Since 2011, over 100 structures have been safeguarded for the future as a result of the Structures at Risk Fund.

  The remainder of my Department's built heritage capital budget for 2015 will be focused on the conservation and presentation of the State's heritage portfolio, which is managed by the Office of Public Works.

  In the published Revised Estimates for Public Services 2015, funding of €4.743m was allocated to the Heritage Council to supports its functions under the Heritage Act 1995, in its role of supporting heritage infrastructure, promoting pride and best practice in conservation and sustainable heritage management. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports in 2015 and future years, having regard to competing priorities for limited resources.

  In 2014 my Department was provided with a special allocation of €5m from Capital Stimulus funding for a new Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme to assist with works to safeguard structures, in private and civic ownership, protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000, as amended. A total of €15m was invested in 540 historic structures across the country and information provided by the local authorities indicates that 175 jobs were created as a result of this scheme. The operation of a similar scheme in the future would be contingent on dedicated funding being made available to my Department.


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