On the 20 December 2023, Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage, Darragh O’Brien signed two new Declarations – a General Wild Bird Declaration and an Air Safety Wild Bird Declaration. These were issued under the newly signed S.I. 576 of 2023 entitled: European Communities (Birds Declarations) Regulations 2023 and are set to run for 12 months each, from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024, bringing them in line with the standard EU reporting period requirements for Article 9 of the Birds Directive.
There was no change to the Air Safety Wild Bird Declaration from the one in operation.
There have been two changes to the General Wild Bird Declaration:
- Removal of the permission to take the nests or eggs of 3 species of Gull in an area of Balbriggan – namely Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. This decision was taken for a number of reasons e.g.:
- Since 2018, under the General Declaration, the eggs and nests of gulls could be removed, as part of a pilot project, from a particular geographical location in Balbriggan, Co Dublin. There is little or no evidence to suggest that this pilot was utilised locally or had any significant impact on the gull population there.
- During 2023 the North-West Irish Sea Special Protection Area (SPA) was classified as a candidate SPA and is fully protected since 17 November 2023. This SPA extends offshore along the coasts of Counties Louth, Meath and Dublin and the three gull species mentioned above are among the qualifying interests for the site.
- Introduction of voluntary reporting on activities carried out under the General Declaration. Ireland has an obligation under EU law to gather data in relation to the harvesting of bird species carried out under a derogation. This requires any individual that carries out an activity under the Declaration to provide an annual return to the National Parks & Wildlife Service outlining details of the species and numbers of birds affected. The forms can be found here: https://www.npws.ie/legislation/eu-directives/birds-directive/eu-birds-directive-article-9-derogations. The onus is on the person carrying out the activity to make the return.