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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 138-151
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Army Equitation School
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 138-151

Garda Investigations

 138. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the progress that has been made in criminal investigations arising from the Moriarty tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56143/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following their examination of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been sought on the findings of that examination, with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should now be commenced.

Army Equitation School

 139. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will ensure that the existing detachment of the Army Equestrian School will be retained at the Curragh Camp, County Kildare; if he acknowledges the value of this detachment to the overall Army Equestrian School; if his attention has been drawn to the service that the detachment provides to upwards of 400 transition year students who use the Curragh facility on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56035/12]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter At present there are no plans to close the equitation yard that is located at the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh Camp. The transition year programme, referred to by the Deputy, provides an opportunity each year for approximately 200 students from the local area to work with horses and to learn about the Defence Forces.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

 140. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he intends to extend the latest date for applications under the agri-environment options scheme 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56053/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney On 25th September 2012, I announced the re-opening the Agri Environment Options Scheme, AEOS III. Despite the challenging budgetary constraints I secured a budget of €20 million to provide for the new AEOS III, with a view to accepting approximately 6,000 applicants into the scheme.

  The Agri-environment Options Scheme (AEOS III) will build on the success of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) and both AEOS 1 and 2 in delivering an annual payment to farmers in return for farming to high environmental standards.

  A maximum payment of €4,000 per annum will apply to individual applicants under the scheme. It will operate largely on the same basis as in previous years and the same measures and rates of payment will be available. Farmers with commonage land, designated Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas will be required to follow a 'Sustainable Management Plan' prepared by a planner. However, those applicants will be given priority in determining access to the scheme. Applicants other than those requiring a sustainable management plan will not be required to engage a planner to complete their application form. In addition to the priority which will be given to designated land applications will be assessed on the basis of selection criteria reflecting previous participation in REPS, farm size and location in Disadvantaged Areas.

  Application forms, Terms and Conditions and Specification documents were made available in local AES offices Department and on the Department’s website. The website also contained a Guidance Note for completing the Sustainable Management Plan and clarification notes on the scheme. The closing date for receipt of applications was fixed at 30th November 2012 with a view to allowing applicants adequate time to prepare and submit applications under the scheme and, following the processing of those applications, to allow for the entry of new participants as soon as possible. Due to a high level of interest in the AEOS 3 Scheme I decided to extend the closing date for receipt of AEOS III applications by one week to Friday, 7th December 2012. The extension was granted to allow necessary time for both farmers and planners to complete work on hands and to return the completed applications to the Department Office in Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford.

  Approximately 10,000 have been submitted and all applications received will now be processed and assessed with a view to issuing approvals to successful applicants as soon as possible.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

 141. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress made to date with the negotiations surrounding the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55819/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have said previously that Ireland is prepared to put a major effort into securing a deal on CAP reform during the Irish EU Presidency. However, to do this, three things need to happen:

- there must be agreement on the MFF as soon as possible,

- there must be substantial progress during previous presidencies on technical issues,

- all three institutions - the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission - need to engage actively in the negotiating process.

  The CAP reform dossier comprises seven legislative proposals in all. These have been the subject of detailed examination by the Council over the last year, in Working Groups, the Special Committee on Agriculture and the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers. Good progress has been made by the Danish and Cyprus Presidency on many of the technical issues and we are now approaching the point at which the more political issues fall to be decided.

  However, a number of CAP reform issues, relating, primarily but not exclusively, to financial matters, fall to be decided by Heads of State and Government in the context of the negotiations on the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework for the EU budget. It is expected that Heads of State and Government will return to the MFF negotiations early in the new year, following on their discussion on 22/23 November. If they reach agreement, it will provide a window for finalisation of a Council position on CAP reform.

  The CAP reform dossier falls to be decided in full co-decision with the European Parliament. Thus, in parallel with the Council, the European Parliament is conducting a detailed examination of the dossier. The rapporteurs assigned to each of the legislative proposals produced draft reports in May and June last. These were the subject of some 7,000 amendments and the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture (COMAGRI) is scheduled to vote on these amendments in January next. These amendments will subsequently be voted upon in a plenary session of the Parliament, which is tentatively scheduled for the week beginning 11 March. This will give a mandate to COMAGRI to enter into Trilogue discussions with the Council and the Commission. Trilogues are the platform through which final agreement is reached between the three institutions.

  In these circumstances, there is a narrow window of opportunity for securing political agreement on CAP reform in the first six months of next year during the Irish Presidency.

  I should add that my own national priorities in these negotiations remain unchanged. These are to get the best possible outcome for Ireland, focusing on five key areas:

- delivering a well-resourced CAP,

- retaining Ireland’s share of CAP funds,

- maximising payment model flexibility for Member States,

- ensuring rural development policy supports competitiveness and sustainability, and

- keeping the CAP as simple and as effective as possible for farmers and Member States.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 142. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment in respect of agri-environment option scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56014/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named was approved for participation in the 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1st September 2010 and full payment has issued in respect of both 2010 and 2011.

  Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payment in respect of the 2012 Scheme year is subject to a similar administrative checking process. 2012 payments have now commenced and in the event of any particular issues arising on the application of the person named officials in my Department will be in direct contact with the person named.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 143. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a REP scheme 4 payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56019/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in May 2009 and has received payments for the first three years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. This process has been completed and payments have commenced. I expect payment to issue shortly to the person named.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

 144. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if previous participation in REP scheme, including a significant proportion of marginal land in their holding and resultant difficulties in continuing to adhere to the high environmental management practices required by REP scheme in the absence of support will be considered as factors in the assessment of a person (details supplied) for agri environment options scheme 3. [56080/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An Agri-environment Options Scheme application was received in my Department from the person named on 29th November 2012. About 10,000 applications have been received and all applications, including that of the person named, are now being processed with a view to issuing approvals to successful applicants as soon as possible.

  In accordance with the terms and conditions of the scheme, the admission of applicants will be determined by the following priority selection criteria

- applicants within a targeted area of the Boora region of Co. Offaly who select Wild Bird Cover Option B (Grey Partridge) will get first access,

- Applicants with eligible Natura land will get access next,

- Applicants with at least 0.5 hectares of Utilisable Agricultural Non-Natura Commonage land rank next,

- Farm Partnerships,

- Previous Participation in REPS,

- Farm Size (Favouring smaller holding) based on the utilisable agricultural area,

- Location of farms in Less Favoured Areas.

  On the basis of the application submitted, the person named has no commonage land, designated Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protections Areas and will not qualify for the priority consideration for access to the scheme under these criteria. The applicant’s previous participation in REPS is recognised and will form part of the application of the selection criteria.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 145. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding payment of a disadvantaged area grant in respect of a person (details supplied) [56081/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Payment under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme issued to the person named on 25 September 2012, directly to the nominated bank account.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 146. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding payment of a disadvantage area grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [56082/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Payment under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme has not yet issued as, at this stage, the holding concerned has not yet satisfied the Scheme minimum stocking density requirements for 2012. Immediately the holding concerned is confirmed as having met these requirements, the case will be further processed with a view to payment at the earliest possible date thereafter.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 147. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their appeal for disadvantage area aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56095/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The appeal of the person named was recently forwarded to the DAS Appeals Committee for consideration; immediately that Committee has adjudicated on this appeal, the person concerned will be notified of their decision, in writing.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 148. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment of the disadvantaged area scheme will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56105/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application has recently been finalised, payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 149. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their appeal for disadvantaged area aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56108/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application has recently been finalised, payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Single Payment Scheme Expenditure

 150. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason for the 2012 linear reduction and 2011 linear reduction on payments of the 2012 single payment; the rate at which this deduction is being deducted; if it is being deducted from all applicants; the total amount of the deduction across all participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56116/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Single Farm Payment is one of the most important payments received by farmers each year. The amount of funding available for payment to Irish farmers under the 2011 and 2012 Schemes was €1.263 billion and €1.255 billion respectively. These funds were used to pay the Single Farm Payment and the Article 68 Schemes namely the Grassland Sheep Scheme, the Dairy Efficiency Programme and the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme.

Given the level of the funding involved annually and the importance of the monies paid to farmers’ income, it is absolutely vital that all of the funding available from the EU is fully drawn down and utilised. Therefore, it is my priority that payments be maximised, both for the benefit of the individual farmers concerned and, on a broader level, the benefit of the country in general.

Essentially, the linear reductions to payments under both the 2011 and 2012 Single Payment Schemes are necessary in order to ensure that the National Ceilings for the Scheme for the years in question are respected.

However, in pursuing this objective, the budget for the 2011 Scheme was marginally exceeded and the projections for the budget for the 2012 Scheme are similar. In light of this, the only prudent course of action is to apply linear reductions to both years’ payments. These reductions, at a rate of 0.45% on the payments made, are being applied to the balancing payments now issuing under the 2012 Scheme. The reductions are applicable to all Single Payment Scheme beneficiaries.

There are technical issues involved in relation to the overshoot of the National Ceiling, in that under the EU Commission requirements it is necessary payments under earlier SPS schemes must be accounted in the year in which they are paid. My Department’s officials are pursuing this matter with the Commission.

Turning to payments in respect of the 2012 SPS Scheme, I am delighted with the level of payments that have been made by my Department since balancing payments commenced less than two weeks ago. In what has been a difficult year for farmers due to the impact of the weather conditions, over €1,193 million was paid to 121,290 farmers (or over 98% of all applicants). Payments continue to be made as soon as cleared of errors and fully processed.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 151. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the rates at which the modulation reduction is being deducted from single payments this year; the purpose of this reduction; the use to which this money is put; the way this money will be taken into account in the calculation of the single farm 2014-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56117/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Single Payment Scheme was implemented in Ireland in 2005 under the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1872/2003. Article 10 of the Council Regulation provided for the application of a modulation deduction of 3% in 2005, 4% in 2006 and 5% from 2005 onwards.

Under the original SPS provisions, the modulation deduction was applied to all payments and was subsequently refunded on the first €5,000 in each payment or up to the amount paid if it was less than €5,000. This was provided for under the provisions of Article 12 of the Council Regulation. After the adoption of the Health Check proposals, the first €5,000 of SPS payments is exempt from the modulation deduction from the 2009 SPS scheme-year onwards. New rates of modulation deductions applied after agreement on the Health Check proposals – 7% in 2009, 8% in 2010, 9% in 2011 and 10% from 2012 onwards. A further 4% deduction applies to payments made in excess of €300,000. This provision only applies to five applicants in Ireland.

Most of the amounts not paid arising from the modulation deduction (90% in 2011) are made available to Ireland for funding Rural Development (Pillar 11) measures. The Commission’s proposals for funding of the Common Agricultural Policy for the period from 2014 to 2020 foresee that the modulated amounts transfer permanently to fund Rural Development (Pillar 11) from the commencement of the new programming period.


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