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, Minister of State and Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has confirmed.

The plan is part of the Curragh Consultancy Study, a comprehensive process being undertaken by the two bodies to find a way forward in the management and development of the Curragh Plains. It will be followed by an interpretation and branding plan which will be centered around the development of the Curragh Plains as a cultural and amenity attraction.

Commenting on the development Minister Heydon said: “I, like many others, am looking forward to exploring the reports in depth and the potential they have for the future management of the Curragh plains.

“Government is absolutely determined that we protect the Curragh and all of its great attributes to see them better developed for the benefit of everyone that uses it. Whether its local people, tourists and visitors, or stakeholders who depend on the Curragh Plains as part of their livelihood.

“This is a process that has taken time, but it is a really, really important one and a great opportunity for us.”

Minister Heydon pointed to the overwhelming response of 3,600 submissions to a public consultation as a clear indication of the strength of the feeling towards the Curragh.

“As a local TD, I am passionate about the Curragh. This affinity is not just based on the military, or the sheep, or the horse racing sector – which Government is keen to see continue – but the importance of the 5,000 acres of unique grassland as a place of significant natural beauty which should be protected for generations to come,” the Minister said.

The full Curragh Consultancy Study is due for completion in the coming months.

Minister Heydon said that while not assuming the outcome of the study there was a need to bring the management of the Plains onto a modern footing.

He pointed to illegal encampments and fly-tipping as two particular issues that needed to be addressed.

“We need to get the balance right between conservation, protecting the Curragh in as proactive a way as possible, while also not shutting it off to the people who depend on it, who use it, and really appreciate using it.”