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// Lough Derg may be designated as protection area for birds
THE state has moved to designate Lough Derg as a special protection area (SPA) for birds.
Similar moves to designate the lower Shannon estuary an SPA have sparked concerns by the Midwest Regional Authority. In response, the promoters of contentious plans for a seaplane service out of Lough Derg said yesterday that the proposed designation will not affect their plans.
Harbour Flights Ireland chief executive Emelyn Heaps said its plans already have planning permission. Mr Heaps said the company is waiting on a licence from the Irish Aviation Authority and hopes to launch its service out of Mountshannon soon. Last year, An Bord Pleanála gave it the go-ahead despite opposition from An Taisce and local anglers.
According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Lough Derg is important for both breeding and wintering birds. It states: "Lough Derg (Shannon) SPA is of high ornithological importance as it supports nationally important breeding populations of cormorant and common tern.
"In winter, it has nationally important populations of tufted duck and goldeneye, as well as a range of other species including whooper swan.
"The presence of whooper swan, Greenland white-fronted goose, hen harrier and common tern is of particular note as these are listed on Annex I of the EU Birds Directive."
The designation places restrictions on landowners with land on the site.
According to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in order to protect ecologically important sites, certain potentially harmful works are restricted within SPAs.
These are works liable to destroy or significantly alter, damage or interfere with the site's ecology including infilling, blasting, and cutting, uprooting or otherwise removing plants.
A landowner contemplating undertaking such works is required to seek the consent of the minister.
Landowners have until October 25 to lodge submissions.
By Gordon Deegan
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2011
Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/lough-derg-may-be-designated-as-protection-area-for-birds-166698.html#ixzz1XFOBV3gF