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Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton has asked a parliamentary question in the Dail about Government proposals for the Blackwater Estuary. The Minister for the Environment proposes to redesignate part of the Blackwater Estuary near Youghal as a Special Protection Area.

“I have been contacted by a number of people in the Youghal area who have concerns that the Government’s plans might mean restrictions on water-based activities in the estuary. This section of the Blackwater is regularly used for power-boating, sailing, waterskiing and fishing by locals and tourists alike and a number of local businesses are dependent on this use.

“The Minister advised me in response to the parliamentary question that the reclassification of Special Protection Areas comes as a result of a decision by the European Court of Justice in December 2007. This judgment found that Ireland’s classification of some of its Special Protection Areas was inadequate.

“The Government’s proposal to update the designation of the Blackwater Estuary was advertised on 4th August 2010. It is part of the Department of Environment’s programme of classification of Special Protection Areas under the EU Birds Directive. Any landowner or land user who is unhappy with the Government’s plan can submit an appeal to the Department of Environment. This must be done before the deadline of 3rd November 2010.

The Minister has also said that his Department does not have concerns about current levels of recreational activities of this site and I hope that this is correct. I understand that there have been some issues regarding boat usage in Special Protection Areas in the past. I would not like to see any such restrictions on recreational use of the Blackwater which is such an important amenity for the Youghal area.