Thursday, 8 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
36. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the level of consultation which has gone into the preparation of the national biodiversity plan for Ireland; when the plan will be completed and published; and if she will lift the ban on non-governmental organisations having sight of the draft plan. [27080/01]
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): The preparation of the national biodiversity action plan involved an extended formal public consultation process. Public notices were placed in the national press inviting submissions from interested parties or individuals. Submissions were also invited directly from relevant organisations, including third level institutions and NGOs, representative of both conservation and sectoral interests. Officials of my Department met with key NGOs and explained in considerable detail the format and general approach of the plan. Approximately 50 submissions were received, quite a number of which were very comprehensive. These were reviewed and incorporated, as appropriate, into the plan.
The plan is now finalised and I am in the process of seeking Government approval for its publication. Depending on this approval I hope the process of publication will be under way by the end of the year. I believe that the public interest would best be served by having the plan published and its contents taken into account as soon  as possible. When published all stakeholders will be free to participate in the process of ongoing monitoring and review which is an integral part of the plan.
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