The European Commission is urging Ireland to respect obligations under the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) for the protection of natural habitats and species included in the Natura 2000 network.
Member States have to finalise the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). They also have to establish, for these areas, the conservation priorities, objectives and measures to maintain or restore the species and habitats present in these areas to a favourable condition. These steps need to be carried out within a six-year deadline which, in the case of Ireland, expired on 12 December 2014. Thus, 255 areas out of 423 have not yet been designated.
Site-specific conservation objectives have not been established for 198 sites, and the necessary conservation measures have not been established for any site. In particular, the necessary conservation measures have not been established for the priority habitat types ‘Coastal Lagoons’ at 25 sites and ‘Blanket Bog’ at 50 sites, as well as for the species ‘Freshwater Pearl Mussel’ at 19 sites. The Commission is, therefore, sending an additional reasoned opinion.
Ireland has now two months to reply to the concerns raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Source – European Commission