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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 186-192
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Ministerial Correspondence
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Felling Licences Conditions

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 186-192

Defence Forces Personnel

 186. 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 the personnel model adopted for enlisted personnel entrants to the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, since 1994 will be adjusted to facilitate the continued service of soldiers who meet high fitness and health standards of the organisation and who have high skill levels that the PDF needs to carry out its assigned roles; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28376/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter A claim has been received from the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) in relation to this matter. In accordance with normal procedures the Association's claim is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme (C&A Scheme) for members of the Permanent Defence Force and is the subject of correspondence between the Department and the Representative Association. The Deputy will appreciate that as discussions under the C&A Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

Ministerial Correspondence

 187. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he is in receipt of information (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28395/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It was not possible to provide the information sought by the Deputy in the time available. My Department is currently seeking to compile an accurate reply and I will provide the information directly to the Deputy once it comes to hand.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

 188. 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 the criteria used in selecting applicants for agri-environment options scheme 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28111/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The closing date for receipt of AEOS III applications was Friday 7th December 2012 and 9,703 applications were received by my Department. The detailed actions listed in each application have been recorded and the pre approval validation checks have been carried out in respect of each application.

  The approval of applicants was 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.

  Approximately 4,500 applicants selecting Grey Partridge, Natura and Commonage actions were approved into the scheme and the remaining 1,500 applicants selected had all previously participated in REPS and had a reference area of 22.06 ha or less on their 2012 Single Payment Scheme application.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

 189. 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 the criteria used in each county for selecting applicants for the agri-environment option scheme 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28112/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The approval of applicants was 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.

  Approximately 4,500 applicants selecting Grey Partridge, Natura and Commonage actions were approved into the scheme and the remaining 1,500 applicants selected had all previously participated in REPS and had a reference area of 22.06 ha or less on their 2012 Single Payment Scheme application.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

 190. 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 the main reasons applicants for the agri-environment option scheme 3 were ruled invalid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28113/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Despite the challenging budgetary constraints facing my Department, last year I allocated €20 million annually to fund the Agri Environment Options Scheme III. I decided on a maximum payment of €4,000 per annum for individual applicants which allowed for 6,000 new participants to be accepted to the scheme.

  The approval of applicants was 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.

  Approximately 4,500 applicants selecting Grey Partridge, Natura and Commonage actions were approved into the scheme and the remaining 1,500 applicants selected had all previously participated in REPS and had a reference area of 22.06 ha or less on their 2012 Single Payment Scheme application. The remaining 3,350 applications were unsuccessful in the selection process as the applicant had never previously participated in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme or if they had their farm size was in excess of the limit, as determined by the selection process, of 22.06 hectares. In addition, 349 applications did not meet the basic scheme eligibility criteria and were therefore excluded from the selection process.

Departmental Reports

 191. 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 if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; the actions that have been taken to implement such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28167/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative was introduced in 2006 as the successor to the 1997 Expenditure Review Initiative. The objectives of this programme of reviews are to analyse Exchequer spending in a systematic manner and to provide a basis on which more informed decisions can be made within and between programmes. Value for Money Reviews are organised in three year cycles. As part of the 2009 – 2011 round of reviews, my Department published two reviews in January, 2012. The publication of these reviews meant that the Department had met in full its obligations under the 2009-2011 round.

The first of these reviews was the Review of the Fisheries Decommissioning Scheme. In terms of implementation, the key recommendations in the report were presented in the form of observations based on lessons learned from the decommissioning schemes in the 2005-2008 period. It is intended that the findings of the review would feed into the design of any future fleet restructuring initiative.

The second review completed under the 2009-2011 round was the Review of the Animal Welfare, Recording and Breeding Scheme for Suckler Herds (the Suckler Cow Scheme). This review examined a scheme intended to have a five year life-span with its final year in 2012. In summary the review concluded that the Scheme has largely met its original objectives and brought about improvements in animal welfare, collection of breeding data and ultimately achieving improved competitiveness in the beef sector. The review also noted that the position at the end of 2012 was different to that which prevailed at the time the Scheme was designed and recommended that neither continuation of the Scheme in its current format nor its full cessation were the preferred policy options.

Bearing these findings in mind, I introduced a new Beef Data Programme in Budget 2013 to build on the progress achieved in the Suckler Cow Scheme over the previous 5 years. The new Beef Data Programme will assist farmers in further improving the genetic quality of Irish cattle and will maintain the data flow into ICBF in order to build further knowledge and more rapid progress in breeding and ultimately in profitability for farmers.

Under the 2012-2014 round of reviews, my Department is due to undertake three further Value for Money Reviews. In 2012 work was undertaken on the Review of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. This review will be published shortly. Work is currently under way on the Review of the Organic Farming Scheme. Work on the third review in this round is scheduled to take place in 2014. There are currently no plans for Focussed Policy Assessments.

Felling Licences Conditions

 192. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans for re-planting trees in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, to prevent soil erosion, in view of the amount of tree-felling currently underway. [28188/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All felling licences issued by my Department have, with rare exception, a replanting condition that must be satisfied. The onus is on the licensee to comply with his obligations under the licence and failure to do so could result in prosecution under the Forestry Act, 1946. My Department is not aware of any large scale failure to replant in any County.


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