Noonan: ‘I did not make definitive statement about further designations’

Minister of State with responsibility for heritage Malcolm Noonan has moved to contradict claims made by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) last week.

On Wednesday of last week (September 2), IFA president Tim Cullinan said that he had received a “clear and unequivocal commitment” from the minister during an online meeting that there were no plans for further designations.

However, over the weekend Minister Noonan – a Green Party TD – said: “I did not make any definitive statement about further land designations.”

Minister Noonan said that he met with both the IFA and the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) to “explore areas of common interest and listen to their views on heritage and biodiversity matters”.

Minister Noonan said that the meetings had been “informative, useful and very valuable”.

“I committed to listen carefully to the concerns about designations and other biodiversity matters, and to engage further in consultation with the farming community and organisations,” he said.

The minister added: “While I did not make any definitive statement about any further designations, as my department is still awaiting further information from the European Commission on its proposals for better protection for biodiversity…I stressed that I would consult with relevant organisations on what options are most suited to achieving that protection.

I also indicated that we must consider how to protect woodland types that we have seen damaged and that are not afforded protection by the Habitats Directive.

“I was very taken indeed by the constructive engagement at the meetings and I look forward to that continuing and I look forward to working together as we pursue shared and agreed objectives on our heritage and biodiversity,” Minister Noonan concluded.