Appointment of Chairperson – Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board (DAAAB) for SACs and NHAs
Date Released: Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Heather Humphreys, T.D. Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has appointed Mr. Denis Daly as Chairperson for the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board (DAAAB) for SACs and NHAs following an assessment of applications received for the recently advertised position.
The DAAAB makes recommendations to the Minister in cases where landowners/users object to the inclusion of their land in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). It is independent of the Department and reports directly to the Minister. The DAAAB was previously Chaired by Mr. Sean Duignan who retired from the position.
Mr. Daly was selected from a list of applicants assessed using the following criteria: candidate’s background, communication skills, experience as a Chairperson, availability and any conflicts of interest that might arise.
From Kiskeam in North Cork, Denis Daly is a practising barrister.
The Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board (DAAAB) is comprised of:- A Chairperson: Mr Denis Daly for appeals against Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) or Ms Ciana Campbell for appeals against Special Protection Areas (SPAs) – and a representative balance of the competing interests involved which are as follows :- Two people will participate from each of the following panels;
Landowners/Users Panel: as represented by the Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association and the Irish Business and Employers Confederation
Conservation Organisations Panel: Nominated by the Environmental Pillar, drawn from organisations participating in the Pillar. Frequent representatives are from organisations such as BirdWatch Ireland, Coastwatch Ireland and the Irish Peatland Conservation Council.
A quorum consists of the Chairperson and two Advisory Board nominees, one member should be from each of the aforementioned Panels. The actual Board members who will be present at a specific appeal would be confirmed when the details and nature of the appeal(s) are known and the hearing is being scheduled. Considerations would be given to the type of land under appeal, availability of individual Board members, the appellants, their ecologists and the number of appeals being heard at each meeting.
The only permanent members of the DAAAB are the chairpersons.
The landowners/users panel has been represented by the IFA and ICMSA for a number of years, the persons representing can change depending on availability and their organisations nomination. The most recent nominations were Pat Dunne, Eamonn Nee and Tom Turley from IFA and Denis Drennan, Patrick Rohan and John O’Donnell from the ICMSA.
The Conservation panel of the board is nominated by the IEN depending on the appeal being considered. The IEN have nominated people from Birdwatch Ireland, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and Coastwatch Ireland within the last few years.
Regular nominations by the Environmental Pillar have been Ralph Sheppard and John Cromie from Birdwatch Ireland, Karin Dubsky from Coastwatch and Tristram Whyte from the Irish Peatland Conservation Council.
None of these people are full members of the Board and attendance would be based on availability, the area under appeal and nomination by the Environmental Pillar.
Fintan Kelly, Alex Copeland, Ralph Sheppard, Karin Dubsky, Tristram Whyte and John Cromie have all been nominated by the IEN in the years 2017 to date.
Eamonn Nee, Galway IFA Hill Farming Chairman
Pat Dunne, IFA Hill Committee Chairman
Tom Turley, IFA Connacht regional chair
Denis Drennan, ICMSA Deputy President
Patrick Rohan, ICMSA’s Farm and Rural Affairs Committee, non-executive director of Kerry Group
Karin Dubsky, marine ecologist, co-founder of Coastwatch Europe,
According to the Birds Directive, Member States must classify the most suitable territories in number and size as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the conservation of species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive.
Annex I species must also be the subject of special conservation measures concerning their habitat to ensure their survival and reproduction in their area of distribution.
Member States must take similar measures for regularly occurring migratory species not listed in Annex I, bearing in mind their need for protection as regards their breeding, moulting and wintering areas and staging posts along their migration routes.
In total, 5407 sites have been classified as SPAs across the EU, covering altogether 527,567 km of land and a further 304,516 km at sea (Status Dec 2021). SPAs form an integral part of the EU-wide Natura 2000 network.
Now that the SPA network is considered largely complete, Member States’ focus is on ensuring the effective protection and management of the sites within the network. This study aimed to assess the implementation of the measures established in Special Protection Areas and their effectiveness.
It included five main tasks, which involved the following: 1. Selection of a representative sale of SPAs to carry out the assessment 2. Analysis of the classification of the SPAs. 3. Assessment of the conservation objectives set and the conservation measures established in the SPAs. 4. Assessment of the implementation of the conservation objectives 5. Assessment of the effectiveness of the measures implemented in terms of improving or at least not deterioration the status of the bird species populations presents in the SPAs.
The assessment was carried out by the N2K Group using its network of experienced independent experts for each of the 10 Member States selected. Tasks 1-3 were carried out by the experts themselves using all available information they could find on the selected SPAs (including for instance, the Standard Data Forms, the legal acts, site management plans, official government websites, etc).
However, for tasks 4-5, it quickly became clear that the level of information available on the effective implementation of conservation measures in SPAs is generally very scant and incomplete.
It was therefore decided to consult the site managers and relevant stakeholders in order to gather standardised information from them on these issues. This was done via a questionnaire and followed up with telephone calls where appropriate to help the managers complete the respective sections of the questionnaire in as time efficient way as possible for them. In total, 180 responses were received for 96 SPAs.
The questionnaire is provided in annex 2. The present report provides a summary of the main findings of the study (based on more detailed individual reports prepared for each task) and draws some overall conclusions at EU level as to the management effectiveness of the sample 100 SPAs examined.
A summary of key findings for each of the ten Member States investigated (Croatia, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) is also presented in a second part of the report.
As of March 2016, there have been 990 appeals by Irish landowners against designation of 439 sites for protection as special areas of conservation under the Habitats Directive, 154 sites for protection as special protection areas under the Birds Directive, and 155 natural heritage areas designated under national legislation.
Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of persons who appealed a SAC designation on their lands; the number of persons who have successfully had their lands declassified as a SAC as a result of an appeal in each of the years 2013 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40291/18]
Response from Minister
Formal appeals against the inclusion of lands within a site proposed for designation as a special area of conservation (candidate special area of conservation) are heard by the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board.
Following an appeal hearing, the Board makes a recommendation to me, as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This recommendation is based on scientific grounds as to whether lands should be included in the candidate special area of conservation. The recommendation of the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board may be accepted in full, in part or rejected.
Details of the number of appeals heard by the Board and the outcome of each appeal from 2013 to 2018 (to date) are outlined in the following table.
No. of appeals heard by the Board
2 Partly Successful
4 Partly Successful, 1 Unsuccessful
7 Partly Successful, 2 Unsuccessful
1 Partly Successful, 1 withdrawn at the appeals hearing itself.
The designation of European sites under the nature directives is a formal, legal process with a number of steps that must be followed for each site. The criteria used to set the boundaries of the sites are purely scientific, as is required under the nature directives. They are designated to protect threatened, rare or endangered species and habitat types, which are listed in the annexes to the directives. The sites chosen are significant not just on a national but on a European stage.
The full process for site designation is set out in SI 477 of 2011, the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. The first step is the identification of the appropriate geographical area of the site. This is done by scientific analysis. Once draft boundaries are proposed, the Minister notifies landowners and the public of his intention to designate the site and provides an opportunity for objections or appeals on the proposed site boundaries. Advertisements are published in local media and notices are displayed in local government offices, Garda stations and public libraries. Landowners within the proposed site, where their identities are known, are notified directly in writing with detailed information including a map of the site and information about why that site is being proposed for designation and details of compensation that may be available.
Connemara Bog Complex was first publicly notified in 1997 to protect a wide range of habitats and species, including active blanket bog and lagoons. In 2006, the boundaries of the site were amended by agreement between the Government and farming organisations. Public notifications were again issued and a further opportunity offered to appeal the amended designation. In total over the full period, 60 objections, or appeals, were received for Connemara Bog Complex. Of these, nine were successful, 12 were partially successful, 21 were unsuccessful and 18 were deemed invalid.
The appeals process for this site has now concluded and the site has moved on to the final stage of the process which requires the publication of a statutory instrument formally designating the site. The statutory instrument includes a description of the site, a detailed map showing the area, a complete list of habitats and species for which the area was selected and a list of activities which require the consent of the Minister before they can be undertaken in a way that affects the site.
It is important to note that all relevant protections under Irish law apply to the site from the time it is publicly notified as proposed for designation. A full list of all designated sites, the associated maps and statutory instruments is available on the Department’s website.
At a national level, this Department consults regularly with stakeholders including the major non-Government farming and conservation groups and other government departments.
For consultation at a local level, owners of lands and/or rights in designated areas are identified and notified of proposals that may affect them and invited to attend public consultation meetings to develop conservation plans for the sites.
The Department also places advertisements locally in press and on radio to maximise awareness of any new statutory proposals.
Learn more about the Site Designation Process by clicking on the following link:
Objecting to a proposed site designation
COMMISSION NOTE ON THE DESIGNATION OF SPECIAL AREAS OF CONSERVATION (SACs) Final Version of 14 May 2012
The Brickey Arterial Drainage Scheme is located near Dungarvan in County Waterford.
It includes 26.6km of watercourse and 2.84km of embankment
A screening assessment had identified that the Scheme could have likely significant effects on one Natura 2000 site, Dungarvan Harbour SPA
The NIS has concluded that, given the avoidance and mitigation measures proposed, the proposed maintenance operations in the Brickey Arterial Drainage Scheme will not have an adverse impact on the integrity of any Natura 2000 site
There is a legal requirement from the Arterial Drainage Acts to maintain the Scheme, so in the absence of a change in the legislation, there is no option to not maintain the scheme.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) provides the legislative and policy framework for the conservation of nature and biodiversity in Ireland. It also oversees its implementation, based on good science, with particular emphasis on the protection of habitats and species.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage manages the Irish State’s nature conservation responsibilities under national and European law. A particular responsibility of the NPWS is the designation and protection of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). NPWS and Intel Corporation are currently collaborating on an ecological restoration project on Liffey Head blanket bog in the Wicklow Mountains Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which is part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park (WMNP).
The WMNP covers an area of 20,000 ha and most of the Park is designated as a SAC and Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Union (EU) Habitats and Birds Directives respectively. The SAC includes a deep upland blanket system known as the Liffeyhead blanket bog that is one of best remaining areas of mountain blanket bog in eastern Ireland, with important flora and fauna and an extensive system of bog pools. Areas of this headwater bog have suffered drainage and desiccation and thus require rewetting by drain blocking and other measures to raise the lowered water levels to allow recovery of bog ecology.
The NPWS-Intel project has been ongoing since 2021, and is focused on c. 60 Ha of degraded blanket bog, in an area that straddles the Military Road between Kippure Mountain and Sally Gap (the pilot area). A number of field investigations (hydrology, geophysics/geotechnical, ecological, greenhouse gas emissions) have been conducted and the baseline conditions of the identified restoration area have been established.
Activities requiring consent (ARCs) are specific activities which have the potential to damage a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Area (SPA). SACs and SPAs are collectively termed ‘European sites’ or ‘Natura 2000 sites’.
A list of 38 ARCs has been established, ranging from “Reclamation, including infilling” to “Lighting up caves, buildings or other places used by bats for roosts”. The particular ARC or ARCs attached to a European Site depends on the habitats and/or species for which the site is protected.
ARCs are not prohibited activities but before being carried out, consent must be granted by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (‘the Minister’) or by another relevant public authority to which the consent function for that activity falls.
This prior consent requirement ensures that the Minister (or the relevant competent authority) carries out the necessary environmental assessment to determine if the activity can take place and if any conditions should be attached to any consent given.
It is an offence to carry out an ARC without prior consent.