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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 389-408
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Commonage Management Plans
 Header Item Renewable Energy Incentives
 Header Item Hen Harriers Threat Response Plan
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme
 Header Item Brexit Supports
 Header Item Customs and Excise Controls
 Header Item State Aid
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications Data
 Header Item GLAS Applications
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Applications
 Header Item TAMS Eligibility
 Header Item Work Permits Data
 Header Item Meat Processing Plant Inspections
 Header Item Tuberculosis Incidence
 Header Item Tuberculosis Eradication Programme Administration
 Header Item Afforestation Programme

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 389-408

Brexit Preparations

 389. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of companies that have completed the Brexit barometer to date since it was launched by company turnover in tabular form. [10285/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed There have been two publications of Bord Bia's Brexit Barometer, the first in March 2017 and the second one in June 2018.

  As completion of the Brexit Barometer is an operational matter for Bord Bia, my Department has asked Bord Bia to contact the Deputy directly with the relevant information.

Commonage Management Plans

 390. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of commonages in County Donegal that have not received agricultural payments to date; the details of these commonages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10311/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The submission of a Commonage Management Plan or a Commonage Farm Plan is a requirement for GLAS participants with a commonage action. 4,286 farmers in Co. Donegal are active participants in GLAS of which 4,003 have received their 2018 advance payment. Out of the remaining 283 applications, 43 have commonage.

There are 834 Donegal commonages associated with the GLAS action, of which 829 plans have been fully submitted. Four commonage plans are under review by the Commonage Implementation Committee at the request of the GLAS Commonage Advisor while there is also a case where the Department has been in direct contact with both the shareholder and advisor as a plan has not yet been finalised.

Renewable Energy Incentives

 391. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if consultations have been held with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the introduction of grant support for anaerobic digesters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10320/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Indigenous renewable energy plays a vital role in our domestic fuel mix and will become even more important in the context of reducing our reliance on imported fuels and in meeting our challenging renewable energy targets for 2020 and 2030.

My Department is committed to working closely with the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which is the lead Department in this area, to ensure that the supply of domestic fuels available in the forest and agriculture sectors are mobilised to support energy generation from a range of bioenergy technologies including Anaerobic Digestion.

The Anaerobic Digestion (AD) industry in Ireland is at a nascent stage of development compared to more established industry in many European countries. Potential for the growth of the AD sector in Ireland is strong but it should be seen as a long term development. There are currently ten anaerobic digesters producing biogas in operation nationally that are approved and are under licence by my department.

My Department continues to support research, development and demonstration in this particular area. As recently as October 2018, two projects were approved for funding from the European Innovation Partnerships Initiative (EIP), under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The Biorefinery Glas (small scale farmer-led green biorefineries) and Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) (small biogas demonstration programme) have both been awarded funding of over €900,000 each.

Hen Harriers Threat Response Plan

 392. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when an application for entry into the hen harrier scheme by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10331/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Hen Harrier scheme is operationally independent of my Department and is run by the Hen Harrier Project team. However I have passed on the Deputy's query to the Project Team and have asked them to respond directly to him on this issue.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 393. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) will receive payment under the beef data and genomics programme; the reason for the delay in issuing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10334/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Beef Data and Genomics Programme provides for six years of payments to farmers for completion of actions which deliver accelerated genetic improvement in the Irish national herd and improvement of its environmental sustainability.

  The application from the person named was the subject of a recent inspection which has now been finalised. Payment has been processed and it will appear in his bank account shortly.

Brexit Supports

 394. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when the low-cost loan scheme will open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10391/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme developed in cooperation with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), provides working capital support to enable eligible Irish businesses to implement the necessary changes to address the challenges posed by Brexit. The Scheme opened for applications on 28 March 2018 and it will remain open until 31st March 2020. To date it has provided in excess of €17m in finance to over 80 SMEs, including those operating in the food sector. Further information may be found via the following link:

  https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/agri-foodindustry/agri-foodandtheeconomy/agri-foodbusiness/brexitloanscheme/

   The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by my Department and DBEI in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors.

   This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

  The loans will be competitively priced, will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment. There is a minimum loan amount of €100,000 for SMEs or €50,000 for primary agriculture. The maximum loan amount is €3,000,000 and loans of under €500,000 will be made on an unsecured basis.

   There will be €50 million to €60 million available initially for farmers, within an overall agri-food package of €120 million. Should demand exceed these levels, this can be reviewed.

   The Scheme features a two-stage application process whereby initial application is made through the SBCI website. Successful applicants are issued an eligibility reference number which can then be used in an application to one of the participating finance providers. Approval of loans is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures. Further information including a FAQ document may be accessed on the DAFM website via the following link: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/agri-foodindustry/agri-foodandtheeconomy/agri-foodbusiness/futuregrowthloanscheme/

   SBCI recently issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to become lending partners and this closed on 11 February. SBCI advise that a period of due diligence, which will include the EIF, is now under way. I have urged SBCI to operationalise the Scheme as soon as possible. The Scheme will run for three years from its launch date and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.

Customs and Excise Controls

 395. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the position regarding his submission to the European Commission seeking the designation of Rosslare Europort as a border inspection post; when a response will be received from the EU in relation to the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10474/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The dossier requesting the approval of facilities located around Rosslare Port as a border inspection post was sent to the European Commission by my Department on the 14th of February.

The Commission is now reviewing the submission with a view to assessing if it is acceptable with regards to regulations and legislation governing the approval of border inspection posts and have already been in contact with my officials seeking further clarification on the proposals.

State Aid

 396. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the lobbying that was undertaken by him and-or other Ministers regarding recent changes by the European Commission to de minimis and state aid rules that will allow higher State payments to farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10527/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I and my officials have been working very hard for quite some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a disorderly Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.

Most recently, I held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Hogan at the end of January to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat of a disorderly Brexit, and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation, as well as increased flexibility under State Aid regulations, which has already been the subject of discussions with the Commission. Commissioner Hogan reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.

As regards state aid limits, my Department operates the State aid rules and regulations governing the agriculture sector, where the state aid limits under the agriculture de minimis regulation are currently set at €15,000 per undertaking over a rolling three year period.

In 2017, the European Commission commenced a review of the agriculture de minimis regulation. This review took place following calls from Member States, including Ireland, for the Commission to consider increasing the agriculture de minimis threshold limits.

As part of its review, the Commission launched an Inception Impact Assessment in 2017. It highlighted the fact that European farmers had been experiencing market difficulties across the different agricultural product sectors for the previous 3 years, which led several Member States to use agriculture de minimis aid to help farmers overcome temporary liquidity gaps. As a result, certain Member States were close to breaching their de minimis ceilings and requested an increase to those ceilings.

In 2018, the Commission consulted Member States and stakeholders to provide input by way of a Public Consultation on the revision of the de minimis rules. Those contributions were taken into account when the Commission was finalising the amendments to the Regulation. Officials from my Department contributed to this Public Consultation and also attended meetings of the Commission’s Advisory Committee on State Aid during 2018 where agreement on the new threshold limits was achieved.

I have said that the State will not be found wanting when it comes to supporting the Irish agri-food sector and farmers to deal with the impact of Brexit. The increase in the agriculture de minimis limits is a very important first step, and I very much welcome the recent announcement by the Commission that the threshold will increase from €15,000 up to €25,000 from 14 March 2019. This will allow for greater flexibility and efficiency, notably in times of crisis and situations demanding a swift response by the public authorities.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications Data

 397. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of farmers that have completed the AEOS in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10557/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The number of farmers that completed their AEOS3 contracts in 2018 is 2,138. This was the final year of the AEOS scheme.

  All AEOS participants were given the option of joining the GLAS scheme should they have wished to do so. The GLAS scheme is now fully subscribed with GLAS 3 participants in their third year of participation in the five year GLAS scheme.

GLAS Applications

 398. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when the GLAS will reopen for new applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10558/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) opened in three tranches commencing in 2015. As GLAS is now fully subscribed with its aim of over 50,000 approved participants met well ahead of target and as the Rural Development Programme as a whole is on target to more than spend its entire allocation, there are no plans to re-open this scheme to new applications.

Agri-environment policy is included in the CAP reform negotiations currently under way and any future schemes will be dependent on the outcome of these negotiations.

Brexit Preparations

 399. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans for designating Rathmullan pier as a designated port for third country landings; his plans for the proposed designation in a post-Brexit scenario; if his attention has been drawn to the importance of Rathmullan pier as a landing port for pelagic, whitefish and vivier crab vessels due to its northern location and proximity to fishing grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10586/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Under EU regulations, vessels from a non-EU country may only land fish at a limited number of ‘designated’ ports. This is to aid control and compliance and to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity.

  There are currently two Irish ports that have been designated for landings by vessels from a third country: Killybegs in Donegal and Castletownbere in Cork.

  When the UK formally becomes a third country and the Common Fisheries Policy no longer applies to it, UK registered vessels will be restricted to landing fish at those two ports. The vast majority of current UK fish landings are to those ports. Consequently, at the moment there are no plans to designate additional ports.

  However, if, as I very much hope will be the case, the Withdrawal Agreement is concluded, a transition period will apply where there will be no change to current practices for Irish or UK vessels for at least 2 years.

  If, in the worst case scenario, no agreement is reached and there is a disorderly Brexit, then the UK will leave on the 29th of March 2019. In that scenario, UK vessels would be restricted to landing in the two designated ports only from that date.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 400. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a matter relating to the maximum eligible area of a farm (detail supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10654/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The provisions of Article 32 (2)(b)of EU Regulation 1307/2013 refer to land which was eligible and gave a right to payment in 2008, and which has since become ineligible as a result of the implementation of the directives referenced in the detail provided with this question.

On examination of the lands in question it was found that the ineligible features were present in 2008 since which time no further ineligible features have developed. Therefore, the ineligible features in question cannot in this instance be attributed to the implementation of the relevant Directives. While payment issued in previous years, this does not infer an ongoing status of eligibility for all future years.

Taking the above into account, the Maximum Eligible Area attributed to the land in question is correct.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

 401. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will address a matter regarding oyster licences (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10672/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My Department received an application from the Company referred to by the Deputy in December 2017 to add the cultivation of oysters to an existing bottom mussel aquaculture licence.

  A wide range of scientific and technical advisers were consulted on the application as well as various Statutory Consultees. The process also included a period of public consultation.

  The Statutory and Public Consultation phase in respect of this application is now concluded. Every effort is being made to expedite a decision on this application having regard to the complexities involved.

  As this application is under active consideration as part of a statutory process it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter at this time.

TAMS Eligibility

 402. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason a device (details supplied) is not on the approved list for TAMS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10754/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The list of investment items under TAMs was compiled at the commencement of the Rural Development Programme which was subsequently approved by the European Commission. The type of equipment mentioned is not included in the list of available items. Requests for the inclusion of additional investment items are subject to full evaluation and consideration but additional items can only be included in the context of the overall budgetary position which is being closely monitored.

On farm investment policy is included in the CAP negotiations currently under way and any future schemes will be dependent on the outcome of these negotiations.

Work Permits Data

 403. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on recent reports by four UN rapporteurs that atypical worker permits for migrant fishery workers were leaving those workers vulnerable to serious abuses in view of the fact that the permits tie workers to individual ships and their owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10848/19]

 404. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on the fact that the atypical worker visa scheme in the fisheries industry leaves fishery workers liable to exploitation as indicated by an organisation (details supplied), the State Department of the United States of America, the Council of Europe and the reports of four UN rapporteurs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10850/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 403 and 404 together.

  As this matter is sub judice, I am not in a position to comment at this time.

Meat Processing Plant Inspections

 405. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the regularity with which officials carry out spot checks on carcase grades on a given day to ensure that the mechanical grading machine is working within its required parameters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10887/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1184 of 20 April 2017 governs the monitoring of carcase classification. It specifies that on-the-spot checks shall be carried out in all slaughterhouses applying compulsory carcass classification and that the performance of the grading methods shall be checked on the spot and without prior warning by a body independent of the slaughterhouses, the classification agencies and the qualified classifiers.

In 2018, my Department conducted almost 550 unannounced, on-the-spot inspections in 32 factories on classification and carcase presentation. There were 616 inspections in 2016 and 628 in 2017. There were on average of 20 inspections per factory per year, which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of 8 inspections per year. At each inspection 100 carcases on average are checked in one time period; the majority in sequence on the slaughter line with the remainder in the chills.

Tuberculosis Incidence

 406. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed further to Parliamentary Question No. 442 of 26 February 2019, the number of the 1,808 herds currently restricted due to tuberculosis officially classified as feedlots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10888/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed 159 of the herds that were restricted on the 26th of February were feedlots.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme Administration

 407. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if the different rules, regulations or procedures that normal herdowners must adhere to when they are restricted due to tuberculosis compared to those operating herds with feedlot status will be clarified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10889/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed When TB is disclosed in any type of herd, that herd:

  - is immediately restricted and cannot sell animals on the open market;

  - may move animals direct to slaughter;

  - must isolate the reactor animals from the rest of the herd;

  - must remove reactor animals to slaughter within 30 days of disclosure;

  - must disinfect the premises;

  - must undergo two clear herd tests, 60 days apart, in order for the restriction to be lifted and to allow open market sales to resume.

  Non-feedlot herds restricted under the TB Regulations may not purchase in animals until one clear test has been completed.

  Due to the nature of some farming enterprises, the keeper may wish to buy in more cattle before a test has been carried out. Insisting that this is done may entail the testing of, in some cases, over a thousand cattle that, in any event will shortly be sent direct for slaughter. This could be considered as a wasteful exercise in terms of resources, both human and financial, and also in terms of disease control. To allow the enterprise to continue to function as a commercial entity, the TB programme makes provision for such herds to apply for a particular type of category which is referred to as ‘Feedlot Status’.

  Herds which are granted feedlot status are restricted under the TB Regulations and may be granted permission to continue to purchase animals prior to a test taking place once a special supervisory protocol is in place, which includes enhanced biosecurity. The retest requirements will be determined by the Regional Veterinary Office (RVO) based on an assessment of the disease situation. Feedlot herds remain restricted until two clear tests have been completed. Once a herd has been derestricted, the status of “Feedlot” under the TB programme no longer applies, since this is a status applicable only to restricted herds.

  Feedlot status is only granted when there is no evidence that within-herd transmission or spread of disease is occurring. Where there is evidence of within-herd spread, the feedlot status is withdrawn and the usual rules apply.

  Feedlot herds when restricted for TB are not eligible for compensation while, in general, non-feedlot herds are eligible for compensation.

Afforestation Programme

 408. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on a proposal supported by local communities (details supplied). [10917/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme is a voluntary and demand led scheme. While national targets exist, there are no county or regional targets. This is a national programme and therefore does not distinguish between beneficiaries on the basis of the location of the land to be planted. This has been a feature of all national Forestry Programmes to date i.e. that every landowner in the country is treated the same under the Terms and Conditions of the relevant scheme.

The scheme is entirely exchequer funded and operates under State Aid rules. The legal basis for the scheme is the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. To halt the issuing of licences in a particular county would represent a change to the Forestry Programme. Furthermore, any person applying for approval to plant would have a legitimate expectation that they may be permitted to do so and that they would receive the same treatment as all other applicants. There are also existing applications at all stages in the planning system where applicants have invested time and resources in the preparation of these. Such applications were submitted in good faith and must be treated the same as any other application. In view of these considerations, it would not be appropriate or reasonable to halt the issuing of licences in any county.

In terms of overall afforestation policy, I await with interest the outcome of the study on afforestation in Co. Leitrim, which was announced recently by my colleague, Minister of State, Andrew Doyle, and which will inform the local community, policy-makers and other interested parties.


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