Natura 2000

Will people gain access rights to my lands if they are designated?

The general public will not acquire any additional access rights to designated lands. However, authorised staff of the NPWS have a legal right to enter onto these lands for monitoring purposes. Such staff will, of course, normally seek to contact landowners and land users in advance of any visit.

How will I know if my land is included in an NHA, SAC or SPA site?

All landowners and land users, with land included in a Natura site, known to the National Parks & Wildlife Service, will be formally notified in writing.  They will be provided with a map, or portion of the relevant map, of the particular site, a description of the site and a list of potentially harmful activities that should not be undertaken without prior consent of the Minister. 

Maps of the sites are displayed in local offices of NPWS, the Planning Offices of local authorities, Teagasc/AES offices, Garda Stations and offices of the Department of Social & Family Affairs. Maps are also available for consultation in County Libraries, or using the NPWS mapviewer tool.

If my land is included in an NHA, SAC or SPA will I have to change my farming practices?

Designation will have little impact on farmers using non-intensive farming practices. However, where current practices are damaging they will have to be modified. Any future change in farming practices will have to take account of the ecological requirements.

What is Natura 2000 & what is its legal basis?

Natura 2000 is a European network of important ecological sites. The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) placed an obligation on Member States of the EU to establish the Natura 2000 network. The network is made up of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), established under the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC), and SACs, established under the Habitats Directive itself.  Ireland's contribution to Natura 2000 is being created under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997 (S.I. 94 of 1997 as amended by S.I. 233 of 1998 and S.I. 378 of 2005). These regulations transpose the EU directives into Irish national Law.

What compensation am I entitled to if my land is included in an NHA, SAC or SPA?

There are two options in relation to compensation:

Option 1. - Joining the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). Farmers with lands in an SAC who enter, or are already participating in REPS receive additional payments on top of the standard REPS payment rates.

Option 2. - Land-owners seeking compensation who do not join REPS will be required to manage their lands in accordance with a farm plan or management agreement drawn up by the NPWS. Where the operation of such a plan gives rise to income loss or extra costs, these will be compensated for by NPWS. In the event of a dispute, the amount of compensation offered may be appealed to an independent arbitrator.

If my land is included in an NHA, SAC or SPA will I be eligible to apply for development grants?

Yes, providing the project will not damage the environment and meets the other relevant grant conditions.

Are there implications for the afforestation programme?

The Department of Agriculture and Food administer this programme. NPWS advises the Forest Service of that Department in relation to the wildlife environmental conditions attaching to the grant scheme. All applications meeting the grant conditions will be eligible for the grant. Compensation will not be payable in respect of applications failing to meet the conditions.

Are there implications for planning law?

The environmental implications of any development likely to have an impact on any SAC have to be assessed irrespective of the location of the development. In some cases this may require a full Environmental Impact Statement. Planning permission would be unlikely to be granted where such an assessment shows that the development would have a significant adverse effect on the NHA, SAC or SPA.

Will I be able to cut turf if my land, or land on which I have turbary rights, is included in an SAC?

Each bog will be looked at individually to assess the impact of existing turbary. In general, it is not necessary to immediately restrict domestic cutting of turf, particularly on blanket bogs. If it becomes necessary to impose such restrictions, compensation will be payable.

If I have any further questions, who do I approach?

In the first instance, you should approach your local Conservation Ranger or other local NPWS staff who will be able to offer specific advice relating to your particular circumstances. They are the best people to discuss queries in relation to conservation issues affecting land in their areas. For details of your local ranger, visit our website or call the Helpline number below. You can also obtain further information on conservation sites from the Helpline (1800-405000).

If my land is included in an NHA, SAC or SPA, will my ownership be affected?

Designation has no effect whatsoever on land ownership.