628. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if both the interim report and the final report of the State-wide derogations review will be published; if public statements that explain and justify all aspects of each derogation granted will be issued by her Department; if derogations are not State-wide, if the zoning approach used will be explained (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17937/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 626 to 628, inclusive, together.

The EU Birds Directive allows Member States to make derogations from its protective measures in respect of certain wild bird species in certain circumstances – for example, where they are causing damage to crops, livestock and fauna or represent a threat to public health or safety or to air safety.  The Declarations to implement these derogations are renewed annually and an annual review of the Declarations is undertaken prior to their expiry.  The review process includes consideration of the views of stakeholders, such as hunting and conservation bodies, and airport authorities on the operation of the declarations.  This review for the May 2017 to April 2018 period took into account the issue of seagulls in the North Dublin area especially in Balbriggan, which had been the subject of correspondence to the Department from some community groups and other residents, which proposed the inclusion of seagull species in the Declaration.  Following consideration of the matter, the Declaration, which is effective from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018, included methods to control seagull species in the Balbriggan area for public safety reasons.  The control method can involve the removal of eggs and nests only; the culling of seagulls is not permitted.      

These changes were introduced on a one year pilot basis and are subject to review as part of a wider comprehensive review of the operation of the derogations.  This comprehensive review, which is currently underway, will take account of all relevant factors, including perceived threats, distribution and population data available in respect of all the bird species in the declaration.  The Department appointed ANIAR Ecology to undertake the review following a public tendering process.  The contract is for a period of five months with the final report scheduled for mid-June 2018.  A completed interim report will be received from the consultants this week and will include recommendations in respect of the derogation process including in relation to the 2018/19 declarations.

There is currently a pubic consultation process underway on the review with submissions due by 4 May 2018.  The public consultation process was advertised in the main daily newspapers, the Irish Farmers Journal and on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.

It is intended to publish both the interim report and the final report on the review.