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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 263-273
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Semi-State Bodies Remuneration
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Eligibility
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Animal Carcase Disposal
 Header Item Commonage Lands
 Header Item Commonage Lands
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Youth Services

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 798 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 263-273

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 263. 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. [15401/13]

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 July 2008 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 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. These checks have been successfully in this case completed and payment in respect of 2012 will issue shortly.

Semi-State Bodies Remuneration

 264. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total cost to the taxpayer of paying the aggregate fees, salaries and any other remuneration to directors of all State bodies, to include majority State owned banks, all public interest directors, all semi-State bodies, all State agencies and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15402/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The details of the fees paid to Board members of the twelve State Bodies operating under the aegis of my Department for 2012 are outlined in the table.

Body/Agency
No of Board Members
Term of Office
Board Fees per Annum
Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board
7
2 – 5 years
Chair: €8,978

Board member: €5,985
An Bord Bia
15*
3 years
Chair: €20,520

Board member: €11,970
Bord Iascaigh Mhara
6
3 years
Chair €11,970

Board Member €7,695
Bord na gCon
7
3 years
Chair: €21,600

Board member: €12,600
Coillte
9
5 years



As long as he shall remain CEO of Coillte or 5 years whichever is the shorter
Chair: €21,600

Board member: €12,600
Horse Racing Ireland
14
4 years
Chair: €21,600

Board member: €12,600

Irish National Stud
7
Not a fixed term appointment
Chair: €12,600

Ordinary member: €8,100
Marine Institute
9
5 years
Chair: €11,970

Board Member: €7,695
National Milk Agency
14 including Chair
3 year s for elected members
Chair: €8,978

No remuneration is paid to Board members, only expenses.
Sea Fisheries Protection Authority
3
5 years
Authority is comprised of 3 staff. No additional remuneration paid to Authority members.
Teagasc
11*
5 years
Chair: €20,520

Board member: €11,970
Veterinary Council
19
4 years
No remuneration is paid to Board members
*   Board members of State Bodies who are officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine do not receive board fees.

Agriculture Schemes Eligibility

 265. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps and criteria to be followed by a person to apply for entitlements under the national reserve. [15429/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The National Reserve caters for new entrants to farming. In order to qualify for entitlements from the National Reserve applicants must have a herd number or have applied to their local District Veterinary office for a herd number prior to closing date of the Single Payment application. In addition applicants must have submitted an application under the current Single Payment scheme providing details of the number of eligible hectares farmed.

Applicants are required to meet certain criteria, which varies through the scheme years, with regard to income limits and educational qualifications. Under the 2012 National Reserve applicants must have commenced farming after 17 May, 2010. Any off-farm income cannot exceed €30,000 and total income, including farm income, cannot exceed €40,000. Also applicants must have obtained a FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture or its equivalent.

Funds in the National Reserve are limited and the Reserve is only replenished by the value of entitlements that remain unused. Should there be a 2013 National Reserve scheme, it will be announced early April as has been the case for the previous Schemes.

Forestry Sector

 266. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding Coillte (details supplied); the action being taken to stop the sale of forestry areas since the publication of Peter Bacon’s report and the other available commentary and analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15481/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Further to the Government’s decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, the National Treasury Management Agency, via its NewERA Unit, engaged with Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department to examine the financial and other implications of a potential transaction. Substantial work has been undertaken to date on the identification of the forestry assets involved, the determination of their value and the consideration of a number of issues associated with the proposed sale of the harvesting rights.

  NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department are currently considering the report by Peter Bacon and Associates, commissioned by IMPACT, containing an “Assessment of the Consequences of the proposed Sale of Coillte’s Timber Harvesting Rights – 10 January 2013”. The report by EPS Consulting for the Irish Timber Council, “The impacts on the sawmill sector arising from the proposed sale of Coillte’s harvesting rights  ”, is also being considered as part of the analysis. The Government is fully conscious of the concerns that have been raised by the general public, recreational groups, the timber processing sector, trade unions and members of the Oireachtas in relation to the Coillte sale proposal. The outcome of the overall analysis, which is ongoing, will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion with no decision to be taken on Coillte until it is discussed at Cabinet.

Departmental Schemes

 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 applications under the equine technical and equine breeding schemes National Development Plan 2007 – 2013 will be decided; the number of applications on hand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15485/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A total of 38 applications have been received for grants from this year’s allocation under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 Equine Technical and Equine Breeding Schemes. These applications are currently being assessed and it is hoped to conclude consideration of them in the next few weeks.

Animal Carcase Disposal

 268. 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 he will consider expanding the subsidy for the collection and destruction of bovine animals to all ages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15626/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The disposal of dead farm animals is subject to EU Regulations, notably Regulation (EC) No 1069 of 2009. The basic legal requirement is that animals, which die on farms, must generally be disposed of through approved rendering plants.

My Department provided substantial funding towards the collection and destruction of all fallen bovines for a number of years until 2009. This was justified as part of Ireland’s response to the BSE crisis and as a means of protecting our valuable beef industry. In view of budgetary constraints and the greatly reduced incidence of BSE, the revised TSE Subsidy Scheme which was introduced in April 2009 was designed to subsidise the cost of collection and rendering only of fallen bovines which need to be BSE tested as required by EU regulations.

The current subsidy level for the collection of bovines over 48 months of age, for sampling, as required under the ongoing national BSE surveillance programme, is €30 (excluding VAT) for collection and €58 (excluding VAT) for rendering, per animal. Expenditure during 2012 was €5.778m and the budget for 2013 is €5.89m. It is not considered appropriate or necessary at this point to reintroduce funding for the collection and rendering of fallen bovines which do not require to be BSE tested.

Commonage Lands

 269. 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 he will put measures in place for the gradual restocking of commonages areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15628/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Commonage lands form an important part of the farming enterprises of many farmers, particularly along the West Coast. They also form an important part of the local environment from the point of view of bio-diversity, wildlife, amenities and economic returns e.g. tourism. However, there is a substantial risk of land abandonment as under-grazing become more of a problem.

Under-grazing leads to an increase in ineligible land under Direct Aid and Agri-Environment Schemes and leads to risk of financial corrections being imposed by EU Commission. It is vital, therefore, to maintain the commonages in GAEC, or where there is under-grazing, to return the habitat to GAEC. It is my stated aim that this will be achieved by working with the farmers directly managing the lands, relevant State Agencies, the farming organisations and all other interested stakeholders.

I readily acknowledge that it will not be an easy task, but it is achievable if we all work in a co-operative basis. If action is not taken now, the areas will continue to deteriorate and will lead to more land abandonment. If this is allowed to happen, we will lose a valuable resource from the point of view of farming, rural economy, bio-diversity and wildlife. While grazing is the only method of managing these lands, the task facing us is how to ensure that these grazing levels are appropriate to the individual commonages.

In order to ensure that we achieve this objective, as already stated, we need the input of individual shareholders. Grazing plans, at the level of each commonage, will allow for greater flexibility for shareholders and will enable the active farmers to increase their stock to cater for dormant and inactive persons. It will be matter for agreement between the shareholders – as was always the case – to decide how best to reach the stocking levels. Professional assistance will be required, in particular where the commonage has been damaged by under-grazing.

The Grazing Plan will have to cater the traditional farming methods for the area, with provision made for sheep and other animals, such as cattle, providing that they are appropriate to the habitat. An appropriate time-scale will have to be put in place but the Plan should include the incremental steps to achieve GAEC. The whole concept will be output driven, in that the assessment of the Plans will be based on whether the commonage is in GAEC or not or whether the appropriate progress has been achieved.

Apart from ensuring that the Grazing Plan is valid, there are a number of other complications, including:

- Dormant shareholders – in the majority of cases, these persons are no longer farming; and

- Current claimants on the commonages, who do not farm or manage the lands.

The issue of whether the latter claimants will continue to be eligible for payment will have to be examined.

There are other issues that will need to be considered. These include the fact that many commonage habitats have been significantly damaged by under-grazing, with resulting problems that must be addressed including land abandonment, spread of scrub and invasive species.

Commonage Lands

 270. 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 protections available for farmers whose commonages areas are being trespassed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15629/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Decisions affecting privately owned land are a matter for the individual owners or commonage shareholders to resolve with any person, who may be trespassing on their land. My Department has no role in this matter in relation to private land and the owners or commonage shareholders should seek legal advice to ascertain what remedies are available to them against trespassers.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 271. 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 agri-environment options scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15635/13]

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 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2011 and has received full payment totalling €840.57 in respect of 2011.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check of all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payments in respect of the 2012 scheme year are subject to a similar administrative a checking process which includes verifications of capital investment through checks on receipts. These checks have been successfully completed and the outstanding 2012 payment will issue shortly.

Ministerial Transport

 272. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the full cost of ministerial transport and the breakdown of this cost between salaries, mileage allowance and other travel costs for Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15666/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The amount spent by my Department on transport for the Minister of State and myself for the year 2012 is set out in the table below.

Salary related costs of Civilian

Drivers
Travel & Subsistence costs of Civilian Drivers Mileage Costs of the Minister Mileage Costs of the Minister of State Other travel costs, including airfares for the Minister Other travel costs, including airfares for the Minister of State
€162,406.18 €27,228.50 €18,368.16 €17,142.05 €9,938.16 €1,325.12

Youth Services

 273. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the position regarding funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15472/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.173m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 400,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country.

Youth Affairs Unit provides funding to the organisation in Co. Wicklow, referred to by the Deputy, under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund (Rounds 1 and 2) and for a Youth Information Centre.

The Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) published in December 2011 sets out clearly the savings required from my Department in each of 2012, 2013 and 2014. The CRE contained a detailed seven page chapter outlining savings required from youth work funding. The CRE requires a 10% saving in 2013 with a lesser saving in 2014. Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure my Department has tried to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of any necessary reductions in funding.

My Department has commenced a comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding and this report is expected later this year. It is anticipated that this report will inform the provision of funding for youth programmes/services going into the future.


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