Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 14 February, 2006

Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.

  647. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when his attention was brought to the fact that the European Union habitats directive has a primary role in determining the location of waste landfill sites; the advice which was given by his Department to Waterford County Council regarding the proposed landfill site at Garrynagree being in contravention of the EU habitats directive when that advice was given; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Waterford County Council did not have the information in regard to the protection of certain wildlife species in the general vicinity of the proposed landfill at Garrynagree at any stage in the preparation of the proposal; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this lack of information being available to Waterford County Council has caused the loss of at least €1million of taxpayers’ money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5539/06]

  Mr. Roche: The River Lickey was proposed for designation as a special area of conservation, SAC, in 2003 as an extension to the Blackwater river SAC. As required under section 4 of the habitats regulations, my Department notified the other relevant Departments and planning authorities of the intention to designate.

[1440] In January 2003, officials of my Department furnished Waterford County Council with full details, including maps, of the proposal to designate the Lickey as an SAC. At the planning consent stage in March 2003, my Department sought clarification from the council regarding control measures for preventing negative impacts such as siltation on the River Lickey. In particular, the importance for the population of Margaritifera that is present in the river is highlighted.

Details of how it was proposed to monitor effects of the facility on the Margaritifera population was also requested. The council replied that the issues raised by my Department would be addressed as part of the licence application to the EPA. In addition, the proposed SAC sites were publicly advertised in June 2003 by way of newspaper and radio advertisements in the local media.

Prior to this, in 2002, this waste landfill project was the subject of complaint to the European Commission. In that context, my Department has been in contact with the local authority in the preparation of a response to the Commission, including in regard to issues concerning the habitats directive. The interim response to the Commission pointed to the need for the project to obtain planning and environmental licensing approvals and the independence of these regulatory processes.

It is a matter for Waterford County Council, as promoters of this development, to obtain this necessary statutory approvals and to address any environmental issues which arise in this context. The decision not to proceed with the project in light of a draft decision of the EPA on the licence application was entirely a matter for the local authority. Costs incurred in proposing and seeking regulatory approval for this development are a matter for Waterford County Council as promoters of the project.

Question No. 648 answered with Question No. 141.