first_imgSenior officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service are to return to Magheraroarty next week to meet with local landowners who are battling the imposition of a EU Directive that protects wildlife and particularly the corncrake.The iconic corncrakeThe Tirconail Tribune reports that landowners in the West Donegal SPA have lodged a number of appeals against the ruling over the past five years and this meeting is seen as a last ditch attempt to resolve the crisis.This coastal community points to the reality that their small holdings will suffer a very serious financial loss if the Designation goes ahead. They believe that no more houses will be granted planning permission within the SPA and land prices will be badly hit due to the imposing of a raft of rules that will see traditional practices eliminated.And as fears emerge that the Corncrake is about to become more important than the livelihoods of local farmers, the community is keeping its fingers crossed that a way forward out of this impossible impasse may be on the cards…especially with a general election only a few months away.The SPA is primarily to protect the corncrake habitat. It is feared that if the designation is applied large tracts of property on this coastline will be rendered useless and farmlands will be seriously devalued.The EU Directive is causing serious alarm and the areas within the designation stretch from Falcarragh to Magheraroarty and includes thousands of acres of farm land and sought after development sites. The special status of protection for the corncrake proposed by the Govt has been the subject of a number of appeals in West Donegal over the past five years. A final decision is now imminent. And the community is claiming that the corncrake is now being given more protection than the people who reside within these areas.Local farmers who recently met with Heather Humphreys Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in their appeal for retention of the farming and planning rights on their properties said the brief session was a bit of a waste of time and effort.Stalemate has ensued in the appeals process after a large number of landowners objected to the SPA and despite having waited for five years for a definitive decision on the controversy, the community remains in limbo, according to their spokesmen last night.The protected status will see a range of farm practices being changed or discontinued and it will also have a huge impact on the grant of planning permission on family holdings.Sheanie Boyle, a local farmer and Chair of the Donegal INHFA told the Tribune that they might as well pack it in if their appeals against the designation goes against them. Special Protection Areas are those designated under EU law for the wellbeing of wildlife and here in West Donegal, the corncrake is the threatened species. Known as The West Donegal Coast SPA, the area stretches from Falcarragh to Meenlaragh and Magheraroarty and hundred of landowners complain that farming is under threat if the designation is finally approved.Donegal has 21 such areas of wildlife protection and that is over 13.6% of the entire country. The appeals process was taken to the Minister Heather Humphries three weeks ago and according to the delegation the 30 minutes meeting was of no real consequence.Minister Humphries continued to emphasise the EU regulations which the Falcarragh group know off by heart for a number of years.The Govt line is that the landowners are being paid fair compensation for their projected loses under the new Glas scheme. Sheanie Boyle does not agree. He says the offer for SPA’s vary from €205 to €375/ha, and the farmers will have to follow a management plan. The birds include the breeding wader, chough, corncrake, geese and swan, hen harrier and twite. The West Donegal SPA has also been aired in the Dail by Deputy Pearse Doherty.He asked the Minister, Heather Humphreys about her plans to review the current designation of the Meenlaragh to Falcarragh special protection area in; to initiate a renewed public consultation process as part of any potential plans to review the designation; to amend the current restrictions on farming practices which are placed on landowners within the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.In her response the Minister said: “A census of corncrakes was carried out in 2014 in all of the key areas for this species, including in the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area . Two calling male corncrakes were recorded, indicating that there were two or more nesting pairs in the area.The Court of Justice of the European Union made a judgement against Ireland in 2007 in case C-418/04, for failing to implement in full the EU Birds Directive. In a significant element of the judgement, the court found that Ireland had not designated sufficient special protection areas for the corncrake.The Falcarragh to Meenlaragh area has long had a substantial population of this species and therefore was included in the special protection area network. However, the population has declined in recent years.The intention to designate the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area was advertised in July 2011. Landowners were advised that they could appeal against the proposed designation of the site as a special protection area.The appeals process has two stages: a Departmental review of an objection to the proposed designation, after which landowners who receive an adverse review may opt to take their cases to the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board. This is an independently chaired Board which makes recommendations to me, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, on such cases.“I have no plans to review the current designation of the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh special protection area . However, the final boundary of the site may be amended as a result of the appeals process currently in train. In this regard, I understand that some 29 appeals remain to be dealt with. There are 25 appeals before the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board in relation to objections by landowners to the proposed boundary of the site. The Board has also recently submitted recommendations on 4 further appeals, which I intend to consider in the near future.”The West Donegal community is now hoping that the Minister will reconsider their plight in the light of meetings between local reps and officials from the National Parks & Wildlife Service.Last year the largest concentration of the corncrake was in Donegal where 156 calling males were counted with 108 of those on islands off the coast. The Donegal island with the largest number of corncrakes is Inisbofin with 42. This was followed by 15 on Tory Island and 14 on both Gola and Inishmeane.‘CORNCRAKES MORE PROTECTED THAN DONEGAL PEOPLE’ – CLAIM was last modified: July 30th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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