Local policies and legislation


Local plans and policies

Local authorities such as Galway City Council have a central role in protecting the environment and biodiversity through forward planning and development control to ensure sustainable development that is sensitive to the environment. In order for Local Authorities to fulfill their obligations and responsibilities in relation to the environment and biodiversity, it is important that there are policies in the Development plan to ensure appropriate levels of protection of the natural heritage. The Galway City Development Plan 2005- 2011 Web link includes several policies that relate to the conservation of natural heritage

Galway City Development Plan 2005- 2011

One of the strategic aims of the development plan is “to protect and promote the natural heritage of the city and provide for sustainable recreational opportunities”.

Another aim of the plan is “to provide for a green network in the city that allows for sustainable use and management of both natural heritage and recreation amenity areas in an integrated manner”.

National and European legislation

The principal pieces of National and European legislation that afford protection to Ireland’s natural heritage are the Wildlife Act 1976, the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, the European Union Habitats and Birds Directives, the European Union Water Framework Directive and the Planning and Development Act 2000.

The main mechanism for protecting important habitats, species and sites in Ireland is nature conservation designation. The main designations include Natural Heritage Areas (NHA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA), National Parks and National Nature Reserves. Local Authorities have responsibilities in relation to nature conservation, the most important of which is controlling development within designated sites through the planning system. Galway City contains parts of two SACs, two SPAs and several proposed or potential NHAs (listed in City Development Plan).

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

This international treaty was drawn up in response to the increasing loss of our most precious living resource, biological diversity, due to globalization and environmental degradation. It recognises that the world is impoverished by this loss, and even threatened by it.

The objectives of the Convention are as follows:

i) The conservation of biological diversity,

ii) The sustainable use of its components, and

iii) The fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Ireland ratified the Convention in 1996. Under the convention, each country agrees to undertake a number of actions to halt the loss of biodiversity, including the development of a National Biodiversity Plan or Strategy. Ireland’s first National Biodiversity Plan was published in 2002.

The European Union and Ireland are committed to halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010.

For more information on the Convention see: