A LARGE number of additional areas countrywide are being evaluated with the objective of designating them as Special Areas under the European Union Birds and Habitats Directives, according to European Parliament member Marian Harkin.
She urged individuals and representative bodies to be vigilant about extensions to designated areas under the directives.
“Following European Court of Justice judgments there is an ongoing process with up to 100 sites currently being evaluated in the context of these directives,” she said.
Ms Harkin said the designation of sites under the Birds and Habitats Regulations, while required under EU law, can have significant implications especially for landowners.
She said 52% of the land west of the Corrib is designated under EU directives and further expansion of designation would have major significance for people and economic activity in the areas involved.
“It will be important for individual landowners to be aware of the restrictions involved in designation and owners and representative bodies need to be vigilant as this programme progresses.
“Economic interests, such as in aquaculture and operating in what may be designated sites in future, should equip themselves now with the effective appeal information which will ensure that they can maintain what may be the only significant employment in their areas,” she said.
Ms Harkin said each person or organisation likely to be affected by the designation of new areas must be directly informed and an opportunity must be provided and should be taken to assess the likely effects on their property or business.
“This process is ongoing and involving many areas which up to now have not been affected by the Birds and Habitats directives,” she said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved