A PLAN for the conservation of the Curragh Plains is due to be submitted to the Department of Defence and Kildare County Council in the coming weeks.

The news was relayed in the Seanad this week by Martin Heydon, Fine Gael TD for Kildare North and also Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture.

In response to a query from local Senator Fiona McLoughlin, Minister Heydon said: “I am passionate about the Curragh Plains, as I know the Senator is. We are acutely aware of the huge potential that exists but also the challenges in terms of its ongoing management on a day-to-day basis.

“The affinity we have is not just based on the military, sheep or horse racing sectors. The Government is keen to see those activities continue, but it is important that the 5,000 acres of unique grassland, as a place of significant natural beauty, should be protected for generations to come.

“To that end, the Department of Defence together with Kildare County Council have embarked on a unique collaboration aimed at finding a way forward in addressing the many challenges involved in managing and developing the Curragh Plains.”

Best practice

Minister Heydon said the key objectives of this collaborative work are to implement best practice to protect the landscape, care for its natural qualities and uniqueness while balancing the needs of its different users and potentially improve the recreational and educational value of the Curragh as a resource to local people, while also increasing visitor numbers on a sustainable basis.

He said a public consultation process commenced in March 2021 which, given Covid restrictions, was conducted through the Curragh Plains website.

Over 3,600 responses were received. This was followed by a series of targeted virtual workshops with various stakeholders.

“In terms of the next steps, a conservation management plan for the Curragh Plains is due to be submitted to the Department of Defence and Kildare County Council in the coming weeks,” the Minister said.

“That will be followed by an interpretation and branding plan that is centred around the potential development of the plains as a cultural and amenity attraction.”

He said the study is scheduled for completion by this June but the Minister is prepared to extend the deadline if necessary.