The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association is claiming land designations are now a real threat to rural communities.
It follows the successful challenge by Friends of the Irish Environment to halt works on a flood relief scheme to protect houses in the Lough Funshinagh area of Roscommon.
Now, the INHFA has warned of, what it describes as, the ongoing consequences for rural communities as a result of the Natura 2000 designations.
For many years the Natura 2000 designations, which are predominantly Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) and Special Protected Areas (SPA’s), have been seen as an issue for those cutting turf and the farming community.
However, over the last number of years their impact outside of these two sectors has become more apparent.
Brendan Joyce from the INHFA outlined how key infrastructural projects have been delayed and often shelved due to objections and compliance requirements with the Natura 2000 directives.
He said there had also been hold-ups on water treatment and waste water treatment plants, leisure and tourist facilities, our ports and our road network ”
When assessing the impact of these designations Joyce feared the consequences may even be greater for smaller developments and those wanting to build a house.
He said that already there are planning issues for new dwelling housing that are on Natura sites and within the 15 km buffer zone of an SAC or SPA designation.
With proposals under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to more than double the area of land designated, the INHFA expects that this will become a much bigger issue in the coming years.l.