The Court of Justice of the European Union issues judgement on Ireland’s Failure to Protect Nature
11th July 2023
On 5th April April this year the Citizen Assembly for Biodiversity Loss Report and Recommendations reported ‘The Assembly believes that the State has comprehensively failed to adequately fund, implement
and enforce existing national legislation, national policies, EU biodiversity-related laws and directives related to biodiversity’. Less than three months later on 29th June the Court of Justice of the European Union reported to the world that Ireland had failed to effectively protect nature.
Even though Ireland transposed the Habitats Directive into law in 2011 the judgement identified that the Irish Government has since failed to adequately finalise the designation process with Statutory Instruments. The Government has failed to identify what objectives need to be reached for the adequate protection of the habitats and species specific to each site and the Government have failed to identify the specific conservation actions needed to accomplish the protection of nature. The Government has also failed to implement the actions that have been identified. These failures affect 423 sites in Ireland that have been identified for protection due to the presence of important or endangered animal or plant species, or certain rare or vulnerable habitat types at each site. These sites are important not only at a national level but also a European level.
The Judgment highlights that there can be no effective conservation of the wild and natural world without finalising designations and following through with identifying and performing the necessary measures for effective conservation. Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD responded to the judgement with ‘It is important to note that the Court’s findings refer to the position in January 2019. This Government has made very considerable progress in recent years: we are transforming and renewing the National Parks and Wildlife Service and have created a dedicated Directorate to lead on the implementation of conservation measures across all of Ireland’s Natura 2000 sites’. The Irish Peatland Conservation Council acknowledge that progress has been made but challenges still exist, for example in 2015 the Government evaluated the status of Ireland’s raised bog peatland sites designated as Natural Heritage Areas (NHA’s). The findings identified that some sites were in such a poor condition that they no longer met the criteria for designation and a re-designation of peatland sites was drawn up. Six years later this re-designation has not been completed. A situation that the Irish Peatland Conservation Council have highlighted to the Government over the years but is yet to be resolved.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council welcomes the recent judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union, while it highlights that successive Irish Government’s have failed to effectively protect nature, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council look to the future with hope that this judgement will result in real change for peatland conservation such as the completion of the re-designation of the raised bog peatland site network of NHA’s. The judgement also offers all the citizens of Ireland a time to reflect and consider the actions we take for conserving a representative sample of peatlands and other wild habitats, it reminds us of the Citizen Assembly for Biodiversity Loss Report and Recommendations that ‘local communities are key to protecting Ireland’s environment, heritage and culture, and are therefore critical to conserving and restoring biodiversity’.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council is a registered charity (CHY6829) that works towards the conservation of a representative sample of Irish peatlands for people to enjoy today and in the future.
For further information or interviews contact
Tristram Whyte (Policy Officer)
Irish Peatland Conservation Council
R51 V293045 860133
Registered Charity Number 20013547
Visit http://www.ipcc.ie to learn all about the Save the Bogs Campaign or to arrange your visit to the Bog of Allen Nature Centre