Dáil Éireann - Volume 446 - 02 November, 1994

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Coastal Zone Management.

8. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for the Marine the proposals, if any, he [1474] has to initiate a coastal zone management policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2776/94]

56. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for the Marine if his Department will assist in the formulation of a national coastal zone management plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2661/94]

Mr. Andrews: I propose to answer Questions Nos. 8 and 56 together.

The development of a national strategy for coastal zone management is under way and is being progressed jointly by the Departments of the Marine, the Environment and the Office of Public Works. This will be a fully consultative process involving all relevant local authorities, agencies and concerned interests. The initiative is also fully in line with commitments given in the context of overall EU policy objectives for the integrated management of coastal zones.

The Departments concerned are currently commissioning an independent study in order to inform and assist the review process. The study will evaluate relevant developments internationally and within the EU in particular. It will also assess existing national strategies of relevance to managing the coastal resource and will identify key future issues.

Integrated coastal zone management is an important but relatively new concept in terms of physical planning and environmental protection. The need for such a strategy derives from the special environmental significance and vulnerability of our coastline. Our strategic objective is to ensure the sustainable development of the coastal zone and to balance the multiple, often competing, demands on the resource from landbased and sea-based activities.

The co-operative initiative now under way is an important first step in formulating a comprehensive coastal zone management policy. An interacting policy approach is essential if coastal zone management is to work. This is [1475] especially so when one considers the multiplicity of Government Departments and agencies at national, regional and local level, involved in coastal resource utilisation and management. The first step is to acknowledge and define the multiplicity of roles and to develop, from there, an integrated framework of future strategic planning for the coastal resource.

Mr. Bradford: I sought information on the Minister's proposals to ensure the Department of the Marine is not bypassed by the Department of the Environment in putting a coastal zone plan together. What measures will the Department take to ensure it plays a key role in an integrated coastal zone management plan? The Minister would have to concede that the Department of the Marine should play a greater role than at present.

Mr. Andrews: I agree with the Deputy and appreciate his concerns. However, the question is premature. Final decisions have to be taken, as I stated in my substantive answer, based on consultancy reports or a report. If the Deputy tables a question in six months time I will have more information for him. The idea of coastal zone management is a good one. It involves many agencies, for example, local authorities, Departments and so on. There are many elements to be considered — recreation facilities, sewage treatment etc. It is a complex problem and I am aware of the Deputy's concern. I can give him more up to date information by way of correspondence, if requested.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There are nine minutes remaining.

Mr. Carey: It is a very important matter for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's constituency.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I ask for brevity in view of the limited time available.

[1476] Mr. Andrews: I am assisting the Deputy——

Mr. Carey: That is good.

Mr. Bradford: The Minister is aware that all affected local authorities have prepared proposals on coastal zone management policy. If local authorities put forward proposals there is no reason the Department of the Marine should be left behind.

Mr. Andrews: I take what the Deputy says seriously and I share his concern that the Department is not sidelined in this matter.