Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has welcomed the fact that despite consistent references from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, no fines have been imposed on Ireland for breaches of the Habitats Directive.

Deputy Ó Cuív explained, “The latest information supplied to me from the Department reveals that no fine has ever been imposed on Ireland for a breach of the Habitats Directive.  While this is good news, it also points to the possibility that we are taking an overly cautious approach, which could be limiting important infrastructure projects.

“We must ensure that in considering applications, particularly for basic infrastructure projects, the needs of the local community and the region as a whole is balanced against the need to preserve, as far as is practical, all environmental concerns.  Leaning too far in either direction, will be at the expense of the other side.  It would appear that we have taken a very cautious approach to date when it comes to vital infrastructure developments in areas of environmental sensitivity.

“This guarded approach is particularly evident in rural areas.  There have been serious issues in Co. Galway with the N59 project.  More than 4 years after the works were first announced, there has been no movement on the project because Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Galway County Council and the Department have been unable to agree method statements for the building of a single carriageway road, which is essential to the social and economic development of Connemara.

“There are a host of other similar projects across the country, which are falling foul of the same bureaucratic problems.  I hope that a common sense approach can be adopted by all sides so that vital infrastructure projects can be delivered”.