The natural environment office works across a broad range of topics, from forestry and aquaculture, to agricultural policy, climate change, water quality and wildlife law. We have been involved in campaigns such as the Heritage Bill, which we rigorously opposed, and once it passed we critiqued the proposed burning regulations underpinning this Act. The Natural Environment office analyses Government proposed policy which is relevant to the environment, and inputs submissions during the public consultation stage. These are broad and varied, from the Abstraction Bill in 2018, to the sectoral Climate Adaptation plans by DAFM and DCHG. From the all-encompassing Heritage Ireland 2030 in 2018, to the more specific Nitrates Derogation review in 2019.

An Taisce are the prescribed body for forestry and aquaculture applications, and for dumping at sea permits. This means that it is written into statute that An Taisce are consulted as part of this process. This does not provide us any decision making powers, just the right to provide our considered opinion to the relevant authority.

We examine the applications/permits referred to us, and highlight any potential ecological sensitivities to the decision makers (Forest Service, DAFM, EPA) which may not have been highlighted in the application procedure. We also highlight the relevant legislation and case law which should underpin any decision taken by the decision makers.

The Natural Environment Office also assesses ecologically sensitive planning applications, such as the proposed seawall defences at Doughmore Strand in County Clare, or for Hen Harrier sensitivities when it comes to windfarm development. In these instances we again highlight ecological concerns which may not have been adequately assessed as part of the Appropriate Assessment/Environmental Impact Assessment process.