Farm Ireland

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Almost 13,000 acres of land set to be designated Special Areas of Conservation

A flock of Mayo Blackface sheep in the shadow of Croagh Patrick during last week's cold snap. Photo: Conor McKeown
A flock of Mayo Blackface sheep in the shadow of Croagh Patrick during last week's cold snap. Photo: Conor McKeown
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A vast area of land in in locations spread over four counties is set to be formally recognised as Special Areas of Conservation.

The Department of Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht recently recently published a list of sites whose area spans some 5200ha (13,000ac) which will be formally recognised as SACs under the law.

Since 1997, Ireland has identified over 400 of our most important forests, rivers and lakes, uplands, estuaries, marine areas and bogs as areas which should be protected as part of a Europe-wide network of sites, known as NATURA 2000, under the European Union’s Habitats Directive.

These are prime wildlife conservation areas in the country, considered to be important on a European as well as Irish level.

These proposed or candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) were previously advertised and notified to the European Commission.

Under the Habitats Directive, Ireland is required to formally designate the SACs by Statutory Instruments.

The Department is in the final phase of Completion of the Natura 2000 Designation Programme and Notification Process.

This involves the formal preparation of a Statutory Instrument for each site.

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The Department is notifying landowners/users and others who live in and around these sites.

This process will inform landowners/users of the final boundaries of the sites (following the appeals process) and the now simplified list of activities that apply to each site, which will require the Minister’s consent.

The Statutory Instrument  is the final step in the designation process of the existing SAC and the Department has said it does not place any new or additional conditions on landowners or licence holders other than those that already apply from the time the site was first identified as a candidate SAC.

It also says the designation of this land does not affect land ownership and does not extend public access to privately owned land.

Locations of SAC sites

  • Tully Mountain SAC, Galway                                                                          
  • Cregduff Lough SAC, Galway                                                                         
  • Ardkill Turlough SAC, Mayo                                                                           
  • Corraun Plateau SAC, Mayo                                                                            
  • Greaghans Turlough SAC, Mayo                                                                           
  • Kilglassan/Caheravoostia Turlough Complex SAC, Mayo                                                                           
  • Skealoghan Turlough SAC, Mayo                                                                           
  • Newhall and Edenvale Complex SAC, Clare                    
  • Derrinea Bog SAC, Roscommon
  • Carrowbehy/Caher Bog SAC, Roscommon

The areas chosen as SAC in Ireland cover an area of approximately 13,500 sq. km. Roughly 53% is land, the remainder being marine or large lakes.

Across the EU, over 12,600 sites have been identified and proposed, covering 420,000 sq. km of land and sea, an area the size of Germany.

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