‘Hands off the west of Ireland’ in commitment to conservation – Fitzmaurice

“Hands off the west of Ireland” deputy Michael Fitzmaurice said, as he expressed his concern over Ireland’s commitment to join a coalition that has set high targets for conservation.

Last month, Ministers Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett represented Ireland at the One Plant Summit. They made a commitment on behalf of the government to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which has set a goal of 30% of land and sea being protected by 2030.

“The level of designation currently in place in counties along the western seaboard is more than enough and no further expansion of that is warranted,” according to Roscommon–Galway TD Fitzmaurice.

‘Planning would almost be impossible to secure’

Fitzmaurice previously stated that new land designation types outlined under the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy could “decimate rural Ireland – particularly the proposed Strictly Protected Area [SPA] designation”.

“The amount of designation in the west and north of this country is more than enough,” he said.

“If stricter designations are introduced and rolled out under the cover of biodiversity, it will basically lead to rural abandonment. Levels of human activity in an SPA would be reduced to practically zero.

Planning permission for homes or farm developments would almost be impossible to secure. Improvements to roads or other infrastructure would be delayed and difficult to deliver.

“We cannot allow the west and north of the country to be targeted for further designations in the coming years which would decimate rural communities.

He added that TDs must “stand up to green agenda” in government, “otherwise large swathes of rural Ireland could be turned to nothing more than a theme park”.