Saturday 24 November 2007

Minister lists Frenchfort Wetlands for EPA protection

Galway West Deputy Michael D Higgins has welcomed the response from the Minister for the Environment to his requests for action on protection of Frenchfort Wetlands and related environmental matters in the Oranmore area. But he said it was a a great pity that it had taken State agencies so long to respond.

"I had conveyed concerns to them, on behalf of local residents in Oranmore and myself, at works that were impacting on protected ecological areas. I had spoken to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks and Wildlife Service at around the same time as I placed a number of Dail Questions to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

"Nevertheless, I welcome the arrival, on site, even at this stage of those whom I hope will communicate to Galway County Council, the consequences of actions- of a pre-emptive kind being taken in an area that had been the subject of an Environmental Impact Assessment," he said.

The Labour Deputy said there appeared to be good news in relation to his replies from the Minister, as far as the River Basin Management Plan is concerned.

"I asked the Minister if, in the context of the river basin proposals the Frenchfort Wetlands in their entirety, that is, the current special areas of conservation to the East and the Westland to the west, which are dissected by the dual carriageway, are both to be protected insofar as they are integrally related, forming the one water plain; and if the River Basin Study acknowledges the integral connection of the water plain and its significance as water flows through it before making its egress to the sea?

"The Minister in his latest reply states that all three wetlands in this area will be listed in the Environmental Protection Agency's Register of Protected Areas.

"The relevant draft River Basin Management Plan is due to be published for Public consultation in 2008 and to be adopted in 2009.

"It is only reasonable that Galway County Council should bear this in mind in the interim period between now and the adoption of the River Basin Management Plan.

"One might also reasonably expect that Galway County Council will issue a statement on such reclamation as has interfered with the Wetlands in such a way as to be in breach of the National Biodiversity Plan, and which undermines the future execution of important Environmental Impact Assessments, and indeed might render them useless," Deputy Higgins concluded.

Connacht Tribune

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