Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Wildlife Conservation.

Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she has accepted proposals from the Irish Farmers Association hen harrier working group suggesting an alternative to the NPWS proposals regarding the planting of trees in the proposed SPAs designated to protect the hen harrier in Counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25888/06]

  Mary Coughlan:The hen harrier is a protected species and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has identified a number of areas around the country, which are important for its survival. The European Commission have expressed the gravest concern at any further planting within these areas until it is possible to fully access the impact of forestry on the species.

In order to do that it is necessary to put in place a management regime to accommodate both forestry and the hen harrier in the areas being proposed as Special Protected Areas. To this end, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has established a working group, on which the IFA are represented, to help with the development of such a management regime. In this regard the IFA proposals will be fully considered in the context of the recommendations of the working group.

Questions Nos. 524 to 526, inclusive, answered with Question No. 501.