Martin: No new Natural Heritage Areas in new National Biodiversity Action Plan

10th March 2017



Minister Humphreys at risk of being remembered as the most anti-environment Heritage Minister in the history of the State

Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin T.D. has criticised Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys for failing to adequately protect biodiversity in her Department's upcoming National Biodiversity Action Plan, saying that the Minister is at risk of being remembered as the most anti-environment Heritage Minister in the history of the State if she doesn't change her approach.

In a response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Deputy Martin regarding the upcoming National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021, Minister Humphreys has claimed her Department is so underfunded it cannot carry out its core responsibilities.

Deputy Martin said: “This Minister is unwilling to include the completion of the designation process for Natural Heritage Areas in the third National Biodiversity Action Plan. Proposed NHAs were identified over 20 years ago and the designation process has still not been completed. The previous Action Plan contained an objective to complete the designation process. That has now been omitted. In addition the previous plan contained an objective, informed by best scientific practice to strengthen the coherence, connectivity and resilience (including resilience to climate change) of the protected areas network. That objective has also been omitted.

“Many of the stakeholders operating in this sphere, regretfully, have arrived at the opinion that many of the Minister's initiatives are anti-environment. She doesn't appreciate the grave and genuine concerns expressed by the beekeepers and others who felt compelled to protest outside Leinster House last Thursday. They are doing their utmost to protect their local environment but it is demoralising for them when a government is insistent on travelling down a different, destructive policy road.

“We are failing to meet to meet our commitment to halt biodiversity loss but for the first time our Minister for Heritage is at the core of the problem. If she doesn’t heed the warnings and advice of experts, she is at risk of being remembered as the most anti-environment Minister for Heritage in the history of the State.”