A NEW project to protect the landscape and improve planning decisions nationally is to be piloted in the Tara Skryne valley, Co Meath.
The project, which will be carried out by the Heritage Council in conjunction with Meath County Council, will develop a landscape management plan and designate a landscape conservation area.
Initial funding of €25,000 is being provided by the Heritage Council and the local authority. Further funding is expected from the Department of the Environment next year. The end cost is expected to be about €125,000.
The project will begin in the autumn and is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months. It will examine current and potential land use and develop a plan for the area. The project will have community input and will be led by the county council.
Heritage Council chief executive Michael Starrett described the project as an important step towards the realisation of a national landscape strategy.
“Landscape management is about accommodating change and development. It provides a much more holistic approach than the current model, to planning how we manage and develop the landscape where we live. It enables local communities to play an essential role in managing their own area, and has been very successful when introduced in other European countries.”
He said the project was about finding a successful model that could be applied to special landscapes across the State and another pilot was planned for the Burren, details of which will be announced later in the year.
Separate studies published last year by the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland concluded there was an urgent need for clear guidelines on land use.
The studies also found that Ireland was the only country in western Europe that had not specifically legislated for managing landscape on a national level.
“With or without the new motorway,” said Mr Starrett, “the Tara Skryne landscape is very special and it deserves special attention to ensure that future decisions and changes are made using the best tools available.
The Irish Times