The European Commission has taken Ireland to the Court of Justice of the EU claiming that the court should declare that Ireland failed to designate thousands of hectares as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

It also said the court should declare that Ireland failed to fulfil its obligations under the Habitats Directive on Natura 2000 land.

The Commission has said Ireland failed to designate “as soon as possible and, within six years at most, as special areas of conservation (SAC) 217 sites out of the 423 sites of community interest in the Atlantic biogeographical region on its territory”.

It also said Ireland has failed to set site-specific conservation objectives across the 423 sites and measures for these sites and that Ireland should be ordered “to pay the costs” of this.

Among the 423 sites included are the Blasket Islands, the Blackwater River, the Ox mountains bogs, the East Burren complex and Hook Head.

In response to a query from the Irish Farmers Journal on the case, a spokesperson for the Department of Heritage said: “Ireland continues to make very significant progress in fulfilling its obligations under the EU Habitats Directive.”