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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 255-271
 Header Item Commonage Division
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rainwater Harvesting Scheme
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Beef Industry Issues
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Commonage Division
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Harbours and Piers Funding
 Header Item Forestry Sector

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 76 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 255-271

Commonage Division

 255. 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 the position regarding new commonage regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57492/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Commonage Framework Plans, first published in 2002, have been reviewed to take account of the current vegetative condition of commonages nationally. This review has been carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in co-operation with my Department. The review was carried out on a commonage LPIS parcel basis and sets a minimum and maximum number of ewe equivalents (EE) required to graze the commonage parcel to ensure that it is maintained in Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC). I am currently considering an implementation plan to take account of the changed stocking levels.

My Department is trying to reconcile the reality of commonages with the EU requirements of GAEC. I will work with the farmers, farm organisations and others to design a practical solution.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 256. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason for the delay in issuing disadvantaged area and single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57501/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2012 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Schemes was received from the person named on 14th   May 2012.

  In order to comply with EU requirements, the applicant was one of a number selected for inspection. The outcome of the inspection process is that, while it was necessary to reduce the eligible area, a reduction in the herd-owners payments does not arise as he has sufficient eligible land to cover all of his declared entitlements under the 2012 Single Payment Scheme.

An advance payment was made to the herd-owners nominated bank account on 15th   November. The balancing payment under the Single Payment Scheme and the payment due under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme payment will issue shortly.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 257. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will have the files in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork reviewed again, regarding the penalty imposed this year on their single farm payment, taking into consideration the inaccuracies outlined in documents attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57508/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department will re-examine this case in light of the additional information now provided and will be in contact with the person named in this regard.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 258. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment under the disadvantaged area scheme will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [57541/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person concerned is an applicant under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. This applicant is one of a number, whose cases are impacted by a requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare and who applied for and were refused derogation in this regard.

The person named subsequently availed of the option to appeal to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee. The Committee has adjudicated on this appeal and the person concerned has been notified of the unsuccessful outcome, in writing, on 13 December 2012.

Rainwater Harvesting Scheme

 259. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will outline the details of the new water harvesting scheme including the level of grant and eligibility criteria; when the scheme will open up; the period of the funding programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57577/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Rainwater Harvesting Scheme which is one of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) operated by my Department reopened for applications on 20 December 2011. It is intended that the scheme will remain open for applications until end 2013, which is the final date for the receipt of applications under the TAMS under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. The grant-rate is 40% up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €25,000 per holding, i.e. a maximum grant of €10,000.

Copies of the terms and conditions of the Scheme, together with the accompanying application form, are available on my Department’s website and these set out the eligibility conditions applicable to farmers who wish to apply for grant-aid under the Scheme. As the funding for the Scheme is limited, a series of tranches is in place in order to ensure that the financial allocation for the Scheme is not exceeded. The current tranche closes on 31 December 2012.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

 260. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57672/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named is an applicant under the 2012 Single Payment and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes.

  In order to comply with EU requirements, the application was one of a number which was selected for inspection. Following the completion of the inspection and related processes, an over-claim of in excess of 20% was confirmed, resulting in no payment being due. The applicant was informed to this effect by letter dated 13th   November and of the right of appeal.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

 261. 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 if a decision has been made on an appeal to the disadvantaged area appeals committee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57682/12]

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.

Beef Industry Issues

 262. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the discussions he has had to date with EU Trade Commissioner de Gucht in relation to the EU-Canadian trade negotiations in view of the absolute need to protect the European beef market in view of the importance of the beef sector to the economy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57683/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I contacted Commissioner De Gucht last month to draw his attention to the very serious concerns I have regarding the EU/Canadian trade negotiations, and, in particular, the issue of market access for beef. This follows a constant series of interventions dating back to April of this year, both written and oral, at official and political level with the Directorates for Trade and for Agriculture of the European Commission.

Ireland’s main concerns are two-fold. First we object to the fact that Canada refuses to accept OIE standards in this instance and will not allow access for EU beef while at the same time it expects that we will grant large quotas to it. Second we have major concerns with the reported size and composition of these quotas.

On the issue of principle, Ireland has consistently asked that the Canadian side respect International standards, as many other countries do, in relation to market access for beef. We have indicated in our submissions to the Commission that this is a stumbling block for Ireland. We do not think it unreasonable to expect Canada to acknowledge this in the context of the negotiations. To be constructive, we have suggested that any agreement should include a standstill clause or moratorium on the activation of any beef quotas such that there will be no activation of quotas until Canada allows market access for EU beef.

As regards the size and composition of any quota, I have suggested that any quota must respect the sensitivity of the EU market in relation to high value cuts and not the totality of the EU beef market. Essentially this means that any quota must be limited in size and must take account of the segmentation of the EU market for beef between high value cuts and other beef – used primarily for manufacturing.

These are not the only concerns I have in regard to these negotiations. I am also anxious that we secure reasonable market access for EU dairy products to the Canadian market. Moreover, the current offers regarding fisheries are not satisfactory in my view and there are outstanding difficulties too regarding the recognition by Canada at sub-national level of certain geographical indications for spirits. As these negotiations proceed, I will continue to press all of these points vigorously with the Commission and with other Member States.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

 263. 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 changes in the disadvantaged area scheme for 2013 for applicants in designated mountain areas; the amount to be saved by these cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57718/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I was extremely pleased that, even within tight budgetary discipline, I was able to increase the funding for Disadvantaged Areas Scheme by €5 million in 2013, to bring the total funds available up to €195 million. However, in view of the existing level of expenditure under this Scheme in 2012, it is still necessary to make adjustments, in order to keep within the new allocation. I did, however, ensure that farmers, particularly sheep farmers farming mountain type grazing, will not have their aid, which is important to the viability of their farming enterprises, reduced.

In order the carry out the adjustment, I decided to reduce the area maximum area payable from 34 to 30 hectares in respect of farmers situated in More Severely and Less Severely Disadvantaged Areas. By achieving this adjustment in this manner, together with a number of technical changes, over 72% of all applicants will not have their basic aid changed. The technical adjustments will be finalised when details of the final outturn of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme are clearer in the New Year.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

 264. 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 that the press release issued by him (details supplied) did not outline the cut to non-sheep farmers in disadvantaged mountain areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57719/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I was extremely pleased that, even within tight budgetary discipline, I was able to increase the funding for Disadvantaged Areas Scheme by €5 million in 2013, to bring the total funds available up to €195 million. However, in view of the existing level of expenditure under this Scheme in 2012, it is still necessary to make adjustments, in order to keep within the new allocation. I did, however, ensure that farmers, particularly sheep farmers farming mountain type grazing, will not have their aid, which is important to the viability of their farming enterprises, reduced.

In order to carry out the adjustment, I outlined in my Press release of the 6th December that I had decided to reduce the area maximum area payable from 34 to 30 hectares in respect of farmers situated in More Severely and Less Severely Disadvantaged Areas. By achieving this adjustment in this manner, together with a number of technical changes, over 72% of all applicants will not have their basic aid changed. The technical adjustments, referred to in the press release, will be finalised when details of the final outturn of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme are clearer in the New Year.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Application Numbers

 265. 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 number of farmers in mountain areas who applied for the disadvantaged area scheme in 2012; the numbers of these who have mountain sheep holdings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57720/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As it has not been possible to compile the information in the available timescale, my Department will forward it directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

 266. 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 money provided in the estimate for 2012; the amount spent to date in 2012 broken down between capital and current expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57724/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Estimate 2012

Gross €1,338.8m.

Of which:-

- Current €1,143.9m.

- Capital €194.9m.

Payments are issuing daily and will continue to the 31st December. I don’t expect significant savings in the context of the overall Budget. Details of spending as of the 31st   December will be forwarded to the Deputy for his information.

Commonage Division

 267. 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 when vesting of the Pollnacloughe Commonage near Moycullen, County Galway, will be complete; the details of any outstanding issues that need to be resolved before this vesting takes place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57725/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A Vesting Order has been prepared and is awaiting the completion of one outstanding Dealing Number in the Property Registration Authority which will make one of the allottees a Nominee for the purposes of vesting. My officials have requested that this matter be expedited so that the Vesting Order can be lodged. I anticipate that this will happen early in the New Year.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 268. 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 a person (details supplied) has not been paid their disadvantaged area payment for 2012 in view of the fact that they were not written to by his Department in relation to their 2011 stocking density and that his Department has a letter from 2011 on file outlining the restrictions imposed on them under REP scheme 3, and that they had applied for the agri environment option scheme 3 and that there farm is in the Twelve Bens Complex where stocking levels are restricted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57736/12]

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.

In processing this application, my Department took into account the stocking restrictions applicable to the Twelve Bens Complex. However, to date, information available to my Department indicates the absence of any livestock on the holding in 2012. In the event that the applicant can demonstrate that the holding meets the relevant requirements, the case can be further processed with a view to payment.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 269. 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 number of persons who have applied for a derogation under the stocking density rules of the disadvantaged area scheme 2012; the number who have been granted a derogation; the number refused and the number of outstanding appeals still to be dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57737/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department received 9,635 applications from farmers seeking a derogation from the requirement under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme that the minimum stocking density on the holding should be 0.3 livestock units per hectare or higher in respect of 2011. These applications have been fully processed and 6,763 applications were successful, 2,342 were rejected and additional information was sought from 530 applicants. The applicants, who were rejected, were informed of their entitlement to appeal their case to the Independent Disadvantaged Areas Appeals Committee. Appeals were received from 1,426 applicants and 657 of there are fully processed. The remaining applications will be processed as quickly as possible.

Harbours and Piers Funding

 270. 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 amount of money allocated in the 2013 estimates for the development of Fishery Harbours managed by his Department; the amount of this required to meet existing commitments in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57739/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department is responsible for the administration of the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Capital Development Programme which provides funding for works at the Department’s harbours on an annual basis and in addition, where exchequer funds allow, funding is made available for Local Authority owned piers and harbours.

  The allocation of funding within the Programme is currently under consideration.

Forestry Sector

 271. 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 there are any restrictions on Coillte in relation to the sale of land in view of the proposed sale by Coillte of 11,000ha of land near Ballybofey, County Donegal; if he was consulted about this sale; if he intends putting any restrictions in place in relation to the sale by Coillte of parcels of land over 50ha, without his permission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57746/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I understand that the area involved in the proposed sale, to which the Deputy refers, is actually 448.8 hectares which equates to some 1,109 acres, not ‘11,000ha’ as appears in text of question.

The current policy in regard to the sale of land by Coillte is as provided in the Forestry Act 1988 and the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, with which Coillte, as a state body, must comply.

Day-to-day operational matters, such as the sale and acquisition of land which take place regularly, are the responsibility of the company. As the transaction to which the Deputy refers is an operational matter at the discretion of the company, I was not consulted specifically about this proposed sale.


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