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38 2000

WILDLIFE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2000

Chapter II

Natural Heritage Areas

Interpretation

15. —In this Chapter—

“user” has the meaning assigned by section 19 (1)(a)(ii);

“works” includes any activity which destroys or which significantly alters, damages or interferes with the integrity of—

(a) a site, or

(b) any of its species, communities or habitats,

either intentionally or unintentionally, or any activity which has a significant impact on the site or on any of its species, communities or habitats, or on its landforms or geological or geomorphological features, or on its diversity of natural attributes, other than development by a local authority or development which is not exempted development for the purposes of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 .

Intention to designate natural heritage areas.

16. —(1) Where the Minister is of the opinion, having regard to subsection (6)(a), that any land forms, or is part of, a natural heritage area the Minister shall publish or cause to be published in the Iris Oifigiúil, and in at least one newspaper circulating in the locality in which the land is situate, a notice in the prescribed form of the Minister's intention to make an order designating the land as a natural heritage area.

(2) Before the publication of a notice in accordance with subsection (1), the Minister shall—

(a) seek the observations of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, the Minister for Public Enterprise, the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, and such other Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate in the circumstances, the Commissioners and any planning authority in whose functional area the land is situate, and

(b) serve on the owner or occupier of such land and any holder of a valid prospecting licence or exploration licence duly issued under any enactment which relates to such land notice of the proposed particulars to be contained in the order the Minister proposes to make.

(3) A notice served under subsection (2)(b) shall—

(a) be accompanied by a map of an appropriate scale in the circumstances issued by or under the superintendence of the Ordnance Survey Office, upon which is marked, so as to identify clearly, the land to which the notice relates and the boundaries thereof,

(b) outline the reason the site is of special scientific interest and indicate the works which the Minister considers would be liable to destroy or to significantly alter, damage or interfere with the integrity of the proposed natural heritage area,

(c) indicate the protective measures the Minister proposes to include in the proposed order for the protection of the natural heritage area, and

(d) indicate the procedures by which a person may object.

(4) The Minister may amend a notice served under subsection (2)(b) in respect of any of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) (b) and (c) of subsection (3), and where the Minister is of the opinion that any notice published under subsection (1), observation sought under subsection (2)(a) or notice served under subsection (2)(b) is materially affected by an amendment under this subsection, the Minister shall, in relation to the amendment, publish or cause to be published a notice under subsection (1) or bring it or cause it to be brought to the attention of any person so affected and to whom paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (2) relates.

(5) Notwithstanding section 3(1)(d) of the Principal Act, where the address of any person to whom subsection (2)(b) relates cannot be found after reasonable inquiry, notices and maps showing the areas to be designated shall be displayed in a conspicuous place—

(a) at one or more Garda Síochána stations, local offices of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs, local authority offices, local offices of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and offices of Teagasc, which are situated within or contiguous to the area to be designated, or

(b) where in any case there is no such station or office so located, at one or more of each such station or office within the vicinity or closest to such area,

and advertisements shall be broadcast on at least one radio station broadcasting in the locality of the area concerned and be placed in at least one newspaper circulating in the area, and every such notice and advertisement shall request any person affected by the proposed designation to contact the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.

(6) (a) The Minister, in publishing or causing to be published a notice under subsection (1), shall have regard to whether, on the basis of the scientific advice available to the Minister at a particular time, the area is worthy of conservation by virtue of its special scientific interest for one or more species, communities, habitats, landforms or geological or geomorphological features, or for its diversity of natural attributes.

(b) The scientific advice referred to in paragraph (a) shall take account of the size of the site, its location, the type of natural feature or features contained in it and the degree of negative human impact.

(7) Not later than 3 months after publication in the Iris Oifigiúil of a notice pursuant to subsection (1), a person on whom a notice is served under subsection (2)(b) or pursuant to any amendment to such notice or any person claiming to have or to be entitled to an interest in or over the land or part thereof may object on scientific grounds to the making of the order in the manner specified in the notice.

Decision not to make natural heritage area order.

17. —(1) Where the Minister decides, after publication in the Iris Oifigiúil of a notice pursuant to section 16 , not to make a natural heritage area order relating to the lands concerned, every person on whom that notice was served under subsection (2)(b) of that section shall be informed accordingly by the Minister.

(2) The Minister shall, when informing a person under subsection (1), state the scientific grounds on which the decision was made.

Natural heritage area order.

18. —(1) The Minister shall, after considering any objections duly made in relation to the notice served under subsection (2)(b) of section 16 or pursuant to any amendment to such notice and if the Minister thinks fit, make in relation to the land specified in the notice published pursuant to that section or any part of such land, an order (in this Act referred to as a “natural heritage area order”) designating that land, or any part thereof, a natural heritage area and the order may include such provisions as the Minister thinks fit which relate to protective measures so specified.

(2) The Minister shall cause a copy of every natural heritage area order to be sent to every person to whom section 16 (2) relates in respect of the land concerned.

(3) The Minister may, subject to subsection (4), by order amend any provision of a natural heritage area order, including the delineation of the boundaries, or revoke a natural heritage area order if the site concerned no longer retains its scientific value.

(4) Where the Minister proposes to amend or revoke a natural heritage area order—

(a) the Minister shall publish, or cause to be published, in the Iris Oifigiúil and in at least one newspaper circulating in the locality in which the land to which the order applies is situate a notice of the Minister's intention to do so, and

(b) the provisions of subsections (2), (4) and (5) of section 16 shall apply to a proposed amendment or revocation under this section of a natural heritage area order as if references in those subsections to subsection (1) of section 16 were references to paragraph (a) and with any other necessary modifications.

Restriction on carrying out certain works.

19. —(1) Where there is a subsisting natural heritage area order in respect of any land, no person shall carry out, or cause or permit to be carried out, on that land any works specified in the order or any works which are liable to destroy or to significantly alter, damage or interfere with the features by reason of which the designation order was made unless—

(a) (i) the owner or occupier of that land has given to the Minister notice in writing of his or her intention to carry out the works specifying the nature of the works and the land, or part thereof, on which it is proposed to carry them out, or

(ii) where the consent of the owner or occupier of that land is not required, the person who is to carry out or cause to be carried out the works (in this Chapter referred to as “the user”) has applied in writing to the Minister for permission to carry out the works,

and

(b) (i) the works are carried out with the consent in writing of the Minister, or

(ii) the works are carried out in accordance with the terms of an agreement under section 11 or 18 of the Principal Act, or

(iii) 6 months have expired from the date of the notice under paragraph (a) and the Minister has not refused consent in writing to the works being carried out.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where a notice has been served under section 16 (2)(b) in respect of any land, no person shall carry out, or cause or permit to be carried out, on that land any works specified in that notice, being works which are liable to destroy or to significantly alter, damage, or interfere with the features by reason of which the notice was served, without giving the Minister not less than 3 months' prior notice in writing of his or her intention to carry out such works.

(3) Where the Minister is satisfied that the carrying out of the works are necessary for imperative reasons of overriding public interest, which interest may be of a social or economic nature, and, in the absence of an alternative and viable solution, the Minister may decide to give the owner, occupier or user consent to undertake the works.

(4) Where the Minister decides to give consent to the carrying out of works to which subsection (1) relates, the Minister may—

(a) attach such conditions to the consent as the Minister deems appropriate, or

(b) at any time vary such conditions as the Minister deems appropriate, or

(c) revoke such consent to works if in the opinion of the Minister the conditions attached to such consent have been breached, or the continuation of such consent would be liable to destroy, or significantly alter, damage or interfere with the features by reason of which the designation order was made,

and the Minister shall communicate in writing his or her decision to the person concerned (being the owner, occupier or user of the land concerned).

(5) Where the Minister decides to give consent to the carrying out of works to which subsection (3) relates, the Minister may—

(a) attach such conditions to the consent as the Minister deems appropriate, or

(b) at any time vary such conditions as the Minister deems appropriate, or

(c) revoke such consent to works if in the opinion of the Minister the conditions attached to such consent have been breached,

and the Minister shall communicate in writing his or her decision to the person concerned (being the owner, occupier or user of the land concerned).

(6) Where the Minister decides to refuse to give consent to the carrying out of works in respect of which subsection (1) relates, the Minister shall give his or her reasons in writing to the person concerned (being the owner, occupier or user of the land concerned).

(7) (a) Where the Minister decides—

(i) to refuse to give consent to the carrying out of works in respect of which subsection (1) relates, or

(ii) to give such consent subject to conditions, or

(iii) to vary such conditions, or

(iv) to revoke such consent to the carrying out of works,

then, the person concerned (being the owner, occupier or user of the land concerned) may, not later than 30 days after the day on which the decision is given by the Minister, serve notice of appeal on the Minister against that decision.

(b) Where in circumstances to which paragraph (a) relates, the Minister shall appoint a person, who shall be a barrister or a solicitor of not less than 7 years standing, to be an arbitrator for the purposes of hearing and determining the appeal and, where the arbitrator makes a determination in relation to an appeal under subsection (7) (a), the Minister shall act in accordance with such determination.

(c) An arbitrator appointed under paragraph (b) shall be paid such remuneration (if any) and allowances for expenses incurred by him or her as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may determine.

(8) Where the Minister has entered into negotiations with an owner or occupier to—

(a) acquire land or possession thereof to which a natural heritage area order relates, or

(b) enter an agreement under section 18 of the Principal Act in respect of the land,

and such negotiations have not concluded by the expiration of the period mentioned in subsection (1) (b) (iii), the Minister may extend that period by a further period and when so extended the Minister shall inform the owner or occupier as the case may be.

(9) A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence.

Prohibition of works on lands in natural heritage areas.

20. —(1) Where the Minister considers that works to which section 16 (3)(b) relates are being carried out or are proposed to be carried out on land which, in the opinion of the Minister, comprises or forms part of a natural heritage area and is the subject of a notice served under section 16 (2)(b), the Minister may make an application to a court of competent jurisdiction to prohibit the continuance of the works pending a completion of the procedures provided for by section 16 .

(2) Where the Minister considers that works are being carried out or are proposed to be carried out on land comprising or forming part of a natural heritage area in contravention of any provision in a natural heritage area order, the Minister may make an application to a court of competent jurisdiction to prohibit the continuance of the works.

(3) Where works are being carried out that are not within an area to which subsection (1) or (2) relates but are liable to have an adverse effect on the integrity of such area, the Minister may make an application to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order to prohibit—

(a) in a case to which subsection (1) relates, the continuance of the works pending the completion of the procedures provided for by section 16 ,

(b) in a case to which subsection (2) relates, the continuance of the works.

(4) An application to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order under this section shall be in a summary manner and the court, when considering the matter, may make such interim or interlocutory order (if any) as it considers appropriate.

(5) In this section, “court of competent jurisdiction” means either a Judge of the Circuit Court within whose circuit the lands or any part of the lands are situated or the High Court.

Restoration of land in natural heritage area.

21. —(1) Where works have been carried out on land, designated as a natural heritage area under section 18 , or where works have been carried out on land which at the time of the carrying out of such works was the subject of a notice served under section 16 (2) (b) and which was subsequently designated as a natural heritage area, the Minister may, by direction issued in writing, require the owner, occupier, or user of the land which is so designated, or the person who carried out or caused to be carried out the works, to restore the land in accordance with the direction.

(2) Every direction shall specify the period within which the land concerned is to be restored.

(3) If, within the period specified in a direction under this section or within such extended period as the Minister may allow, any steps required by the direction to be taken have not been taken, the Minister may take such action as the Minister considers necessary, including authorising a person to enter on the land and take those steps, and may recover as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction from the person to whom the direction was made any expenses reasonably incurred by the Minister in that behalf.

(4) (a) Any person who fails to comply with a direction under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.

(b) Any person who by act or omission impedes or obstructs an authorised person entering on land for the purposes of carrying out any required works under this section shall be guilty of an offence.

Compensation.

22. —(1) Where the Minister refuses consent to works under section 19 , the Minister shall, save for the reasons set out in subsections (5) and (6), pay to the owner or occupier or user as the case may be by way of compensation an amount equal to the loss suffered by the owner, occupier or user by the depreciation of an interest in the land to which he or she is entitled.

(2) (a) The amount of compensation payable by the Minister under subsection (1) shall be determined by reference to the difference between the antecedent and subsequent value of the land or of an interest in the land consequent on the refusal of consent, which amount shall be offset by the value of any amounts which the owner, occupier or user is receiving under the scheme operated by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and known as the Rural Environment Protection Scheme, or any amendment to, or replacement of that scheme.

(b) For the purposes of paragraph (a), any amounts which the proposed works would have attracted by way of grant aid from any Minister of the Government or any body established or regulated by or under a statute, if consent had been given under section 19 , shall not be taken into account in assessing the difference between the antecedent and subsequent value of the land.

(3) (a) Any claims for payment of compensation under this section shall, in default of agreement, be determined under and in accordance with the Lands Clauses Acts and, for the purposes of those Acts, the Minister shall be deemed to be the promoter of the undertaking and this section shall be deemed to be the special Act and, for the purposes of such determination, those Acts shall apply with any other necessary modifications and are incorporated (except in so far as they are inconsistent with and subject to any amendments or modification, express or implied, thereof effected by this Act) with this section.

(b) Sections 69 to 83 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, shall apply to any compensation payable by virtue of this subsection, and for the purposes of such application the Minister shall be deemed to be the promoter of the undertaking.

(c) Where money is paid into court by the Minister under section 69, as applied by this subsection, of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, no costs shall be payable by the Minister to any person in respect of any proceedings for the investment, payment of income or payment of capital of such money.

(4) A claim for compensation under this section shall be made not later than 6 months from the date of issue of the decision by the Minister under section 19 .

(5) Compensation under this section shall not be payable for any loss arising from a refusal of consent for works for as long as—

(a) the Minister is in negotiation with the owner or occupier, as the case may be, for the purchase by agreement of the land, or

(b) the Minister is in negotiation with the owner or occupier, as the case may be, to enter into a management agreement under section 18 of the Principal Act.

(6) (a) Save where the refusal of consent results in the discontinuance of the use to which the land has been put by the person concerned in the period of 5 years immediately preceding—

(i) such refusal, or

(ii) the curtailment of such use of land,

compensation will not be payable where the proposed works would significantly adversely affect a site, its species, communities or habitats, or have a significant impact on the site or on its species, communities or habitats, or landforms or geological or geomorphological features, or on its diversity of natural attributes.

(b) Where the Minister has refused consent to works under section 19 , the Minister may, where he or she considers appropriate, make a determination that it would not be just and reasonable in the particular circumstances that payment of compensation should be prevented by the provisions of paragraph (a).

(7) Any compensation payable under this section may be made by the Minister either by way of a single payment or by way of payment of an annual sum to a person having, or claiming to be entitled to, an interest in or over the land on which the compensation is payable.

Registration of natural heritage area order as burden on land

23. —A natural heritage area order and any amendment or revocation thereof may be registered under the Registration of Title Act, 1964 (as amended by section 73 ), in the appropriate register maintained under that Act, as a burden on the land.

Provisions relating to section 12 (obligations in relation to nature reserves and refuges) of Principal Act.

24. —(1) Subsections (2) and (3) of section 12 of the Principal Act shall apply to land to which a natural heritage area order or a notice served under section 16 (2)(b) relates in the same manner as it applies to land to which an establishment order, a recognition order or a designation order relates, or to which an agreement under section 18 of the Principal Act relates.

(2) Subsection (3)(b) of section 12 of the Principal Act is hereby repealed.