[Sinn Fein]

5th March 2003

Ferris questions Dúchas on Special Protection Areas

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD questioned Dúchas officials on the designation of Special Protection Areas at a meeting of the Dáil Select Committee on Environment and Local Government this afternoon. Deputy Ferris voiced some of the growing concerns being expressed in relation to the forthcoming publication of the proposed SPAs and the effect this will have on those involved in farming, forestry and other activities.

Among the issues, which the TD for Kerry North sought clarification on, was the question of who will have the responsibility for providing scientific proof regarding designation - Dúchas or the individual land owner. He also questioned the strength and origins of the research apparently being used by Dúchas in relation to the effects of wind farming and forestry on the habitat of the Hen Harrier.

Deputy Ferris said;

``Neither myself nor any of the people who are concerned over the designation of SPAs are opposed to the protection of birds such as the hen harrier. What does concern me, however, is the manner in which this process is being conducted and the lack of consultation by Dúchas with local people. I would call on the Minister, therefore, to engage in a wide ranging consultation with everyone concerned prior to the publication of the proposed SPAs in early April.''

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