Fingal Draft Biodiversity Action Plan a failure without funding

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett 

Cllr John Walsh (Labour) warns that the draft Fingal Biodiversity action plan (2022-30) cannot be implemented due to lack of funding and called on the Minister for the Environment to provide the necessary funding to stop further damage to natural habitats and biodiversity across Fingal:

He stated that while the draft plan presents an ambitious and inspirational vision for nature in Fingal by 2030, only 32 of the 100 actions will be funded – it urgently needs the full support and funding from the Department of the Environment and state agencies., claimed Cllr Walsh for Dublin West. Otherwise, he warns, we are facing “a catastrophic loss of natural habitats across Fingal with very destructive consequences for the natural environment.”

“We have a biodiversity crisis and urgent action is needed,” said Cllr Walsh. “The loss of biodiversity is a threat of equal size to the climate emergency and is closely related to climate change.

“The main drivers of biodiversity loss in Fingal are destruction of habitats due to development, recreational disturbance, climate change, water pollution, lack of habitat management and alien invasive species.”

Despite the ambitious objectives cited in the draft biodiversity plan, Cllr Walsh stated these are aspirational only; without the necessary funding, these actions will not be delivered.

“The funding needed to implement all 100 actions in the Biodiversity Plan is estimated at €4m annually and would require six full time staff to coordinate the actions for 2022-2030.

“The plan openly acknowledges that ‘Neither the funding nor the extra staff resources can be made available by the council due to demands from other competing priorities…Accordingly, the council will not be in a position to halt the loss of biodiversity in Fingal by 2030 as envisaged by the EU.’

“This is a striking admission that the plan is doomed to fail from the start based on current funding levels.”

Cllr Walsh acknowledged the extensive work and pre-planning that has gone into compiling the draft plan.

“All of these actions are informed by expert advice and are considered essential to halt biodiversity loss across Fingal but it is alarming that over two thirds of the recommended objectives to conserve and expand biodiversity will not be achieved by 2030!”

Walsh added: “Among the essential actions for Dublin 15 which are not prioritised or funded in the draft plan is Action 19 – the creation of an ecological corridor composed of wetlands between the Royal Canal, the Tolka and the Liffey, which has far-reaching environmental benefits.

“Also, Action 23 – creating a woodland corridor between St Catherine’s Park and Luttrellstown Demesne, a major tree planting process that is exactly what is needed to restore biodiversity.”

He concluded by noting neither the Royal Canal nor the Liffey Valley feature in any of the priority actions.

“This amounts to a systematic neglect of biodiversity and conservation of essential habitats on two of the most important waterways in Dublin 15. We desperately need an operational plan for protection of biodiversity in the Liffey Valley Special Amenity Area and this cannot simply be postponed for another nine years.

“There is no point in agreeing a plan with an inspirational vision if two thirds of its actions are left on the shelf indefinitely!”

Fingal County Council stated: “The Draft Biodiversity Action Plan has been the subject of a recent public consultation process and submissions have been received from the public in relation to this plan. These submissions are currently being considered and the level of funding required and resources provided will be further assessed in the context of the submissions received before the adoption of the new Fingal Biodiversity Action Plan.”

Neither the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage nor the Minister for the Environmet, Climate and Communications responded to Gazette enquiries.

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