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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 219 - 232
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Farm Safety
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation Targets
 Header Item Suckler Welfare Scheme Payments
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Penalties
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments
 Header Item Departmental Investigations
 Header Item Water Quality
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 858 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 219 - 232

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 219. 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 reason a ground inspection did not take place to determine the eligibility of an area for an appeal of a penalty of a single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; if this inspection will now be scheduled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43740/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that one of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. In order to clarify the position regarding the areas deemed ineligible my Department undertook a ground verification check, which was carried out on 31 January 2014. This check reduced the 2013 area over-declaration from 57.7% to 32.40% in the case of both the Single Farm Payment and the Disadvantaged Area Schemes. Regretfully, as 32.40% is still greater than 20% of the newly established eligible area in respect of both schemes, no payment is due to the person named under the 2013 Single Payment and Disadvantaged Area Schemes.

A letter detailing the outcome of the verification check was issued to the person named on 21 May 2014. This letter advised that if the person named was dissatisfied with the outcome of the verification check the decision could be appealed to the independently chaired LPIS Appeals Committee, within 3 months of the notification letter.

By letter dated 23 June 2014, the person named opted to avail of his right to appeal to the independently chaired LPIS Appeal Committee. Following due consideration, the LPIS Appeal Committee rejected his appeal, and notified him of the decision by letter dated 30 October 2014, in which, they outlined his right to appeal further to the office of the Ombudsman.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 220. 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 a person (details supplied) in County Galway whose entitlements were reinstated in 2013 will be entitled to entitlements from 2015 to 2020, taking account that no single payment claim was made in 2013 due to force majeure; or alternatively if the person in question will be automatically allocated entitlements from the national reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44170/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The second person named held the herd number in the 2013 scheme year but did not submit a Single Payment Scheme application. The first person named has now taken over the farming enterprise and the herd number previously held by the second person named and the Single Payment Scheme entitlements were gifted to him under the 2014 scheme year. Neither of the persons named has an automatic allocation right to receive new Basic Payment scheme entitlements in 2015 as they were not entitled to receive a direct payment in 2013 under the Single Payment Scheme, the Grassland Sheep Scheme, the Burren Farming for Conservation Scheme or the Beef Data Programme.

On the basis of a Force Majeure application, the entitlements held by the second person named, which under normal circumstances would have reverted to the National Reserve were reinstated. The second person named should now submit a 2013 Single Payment Scheme application to the Single Payment Scheme Unit in Portlaoise with relevant supporting medical evidence. The Reference Number noted above should be quoted in such an application. This application will be considered and the person named informed of the outcome.

Farm Safety

 221. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to offer a grant scheme to farmers seeking to create an underpass for the safe passage of cattle and livestock across secondary roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43738/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There are no plans currently to offer a grant scheme under the proposed Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020 for the creation of underpasses across secondary roads. It is intended that there will be a range of other safety measures included in the proposed Animal Welfare and Farm Safety Scheme.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 222. 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 2014 single farm payment and disadvantaged areas scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43743/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted a 2014 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application on 12 May 2014. Processing of this application has recently been finalised with payment under both schemes due to issue shortly, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 223. Deputy Seán Conlan Information on Sean Conlan Zoom on Sean Conlan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan has not received their area aid payment this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43752/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2014 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas scheme was received from the person named on 9 May 2014. Processing of this application has recently been finalised and payment under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme will issue directly to the nominated bank account of the person named shortly.

Renewable Energy Generation Targets

 224. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney in view of renewal energy targets his plans to use biomass in the context of rural development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43838/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set Ireland a binding target of having 16% of its final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland is committed to meeting this target through meeting 40% of electricity demand, 12% of heat and 10% of transport from renewable sources of energy.  It is expected that approximately half of the 16% target will be met by energy from biomass. While the development of the bioenergy sector can lead to both economic and environmental benefits in addition to contributing to reaching our renewable energy targets, there are particular benefits to the rural economy.  The SEAI and the Irish BioEnergy Association commissioned report - Economic Benefits from the Development of BioEnergy in Ireland to meet 2020 Targets - found that a very significant proportion of the employment generated in both the construction and operation of the bioenergy facilities and infrastructure will be in rural Ireland.

  The proposed new Rural Development Plan (RDP) 2014-2020 provides for some €4 billion in European and national funds for investment in our agri-food industry and the rural economy over its lifetime.  One of the principal objectives of the draft RDP is to support the more sustainable management of natural resources. The proposed suite of measures in the new RDP, which is currently being examined by the EU Commission, includes a separate Bioenergy Scheme to support the establishment of willow and miscanthus crops for use in renewable energy production. Support under this measure is particularly aimed at overcoming barriers related to high set up and development costs associated with growing energy crops which are considered a carbon-neutral fuel. The proposed measure will provide grant aid to facilitate the establishment of energy crops and will be paid in respect of ground preparation, seed purchase and planting costs. In addition to the Bioenergy Scheme, other potential investments in renewable energies can be considered under the LEADER element of the RDP where local development strategies seek to address the cross-cutting issue of climate change.   

  My officials are at present engaged in intensive bilateral discussions with the Commission with a view to reaching early agreement on a range of informational, technical and policy matters. Pending formal approval of the draft RDP, my Department will continue to examine the best approach to supporting the bioenergy sector.   

  However, the vast bulk of biomass in this country is, and will continue to be, provided by the forestry sector. After wind energy, wood fuel is the largest contributor to renewable energy generation in Ireland. In 2013, 33% of the roundwood harvested in the Republic of Ireland, or over one million cubic metres, was used for energy generation. The Department’s draft forestry programme covering the period 2014 – 2020 recognises the need to increase the supply of biomass in order to meet renewable energy targets.

  My Department also provides information on wood availability and location through the national roundwood forecast system and supports the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme run by the Irish Bioenergy Association.     

  Over the last year my Department has worked closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in developing the recently published draft Bioenergy Plan. The draft plan (available at http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Energy/Sustainable+and+Renewable+Energy+Division/Draft+Bioenergy+Plan.htm) is to be subject to Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessment, including public consultation, which will inform the shape of the finalised plan. 

  The plan sets out the broader context for the development of energy from biomass, and the current status with regard to the range of policy areas that must be coordinated in order to create the conditions necessary to support the sustainable development of this sector. The plan also identifies the necessary next steps to be taken by various government departments, agencies and State bodies in this regard.

  In terms of bioenergy's role in meeting Ireland's renewable energy targets, the draft plan recommends the continuation of the most significant biomass policy currently in place which is the REFIT schemes. Furthermore, the analysis underpinning the plan is that an additional bioenergy-focused measure in the heat sector represents the most cost effective means of meeting a number of different policy goals. Therefore, the Plan also recommends the introduction of a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for larger heat users to change to heating solutions that produce heat from renewable sources including biomass. The RHI scheme, once designed, will require State Aid approval from the European Commission and further Government approval. It is proposed to have the scheme in place in 2016.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Payments

 225. 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 2012 suckler cow welfare scheme payment for six calves will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43858/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named registered 13 animals under the 2012 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payment has issued on 7 animals. The remaining 6 animals have now been cleared for payment which will issue in the coming weeks.

Agriculture Scheme Penalties

 226. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the single farm payment and area aid payment 2014 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will expedite the payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43861/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted a 2014 Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas’ scheme application on 17 April 2014. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases Remote Sensing (i.e. Satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue. The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing inspection.

This inspection resulted in findings of an over-declaration in area of greater than 50%. Based on the terms and conditions of the schemes this results in no payment in respect of the 2014 Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas’ Schemes and the application of an administrative fine to be offset against any future EU payments.

The person named will be notified of this decision shortly and of their right to seek a review of this decision. In the event that the person is dissatisfied with the outcome of any such review, the decision can be appealed to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office, within 3 months.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 227. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has had the disadvantaged areas payment and single farm payment reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43910/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted a 2014 Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas’ scheme application on 17 April 2014. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases Remote Sensing (i.e. Satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue. The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing inspection.

The inspection identified discrepancies between the areas declared and the area found resulting in an area over-declaration of between 3% and 20%. Under the Terms and Conditions of these schemes, this resulted in payment under the 2014 Single Farm Payment Scheme being based on the found area having been reduced by double the difference between the area found and the area declared. The person named will be notified of the outcome of the inspection shortly and of the right to seek a review of this decision. Payment, on the basis set above, of the advance payment under the 2014 Single Payment Scheme issued to the nominated bank account of the person named on 6 November 2014.

While the payment due under the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas’ Scheme was not affected by the outcome of the 2014 inspection, an amount of €758.54 was recouped from the payment of the person named. A sum of €537 was in respect of Local Property Tax and was deducted as per an agreement between the person named and the Revenue Commissioners, while the remaining €221.54 related to an Organic Farming Scheme overpayment. The person named was notified of this OFS overpayment by letter dated 17 February, 2014.

Departmental Investigations

 228. Deputy Seamus Healy Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if there was a Garda investigation into a matter (details supplied); if officials of his Department were interviewed in the course of any investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43985/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am aware of certain issues involving the persons named, which have been fully examined on a number of occasions by my Department. All such investigations have concluded that the issues raised were of a private nature between the persons named and a third-party. I am not aware of any Garda investigation into this matter.

Water Quality

 229. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the efforts his Department is making to prevent the pollution of our fishing lakes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44004/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Responsibility for water quality is a matter for my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Measures under his remit in relation to the protection of our surface waters include the following:

The Water Framework Directive provides a wide ranging basis for the protection and improvement of inland surface waters, groundwater and transitional and coastal waters. The Directive requires that Member States take a catchment-based approach to the protection of waters by establishing river basin districts and management plans for these districts. Comprehensive monitoring of these waters is carried out by Local Authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, measures to protect ground and surface waters, including drinking water sources, from agricultural pollution are contained in Ireland's third National Nitrates Action Programme which is given legal effect by the consolidated European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014.

These Regulations establish a legal requirement for farmers to comply with good agricultural practice in the management of all fertilisers on their farms, including manures and slurries. My Department checks compliance with these Regulations under the Cross-Compliance process and also carries out farm inspections on behalf of Local Authorities.

My Department also funds the Teagasc Agricultural Catchment Programme (ACP), established for the purpose of monitoring the effectiveness of the Nitrates Regulations. This Programme has published work which shows a positive change in lake water quality. The decrease in diffuse nutrient losses arises from a combination of agri-environment schemes, the introduction of a group water scheme and the implementation of the Nitrates Regulations.

In 2012, the EPA published an interim report entitled ‘Ireland’s Environment 2012’ which related to the 2008-2010 period. This report ranks Ireland favourably in a comparison of nutrients and chlorophyll against other European countries. Ireland has the third lowest concentrations of total phosphorus; the fourth lowest concentrations of chlorophyll and ammonia; and the seventh lowest concentrations of nitrate in a representative network of lakes.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

 230. Deputy Seán Conlan Information on Sean Conlan Zoom on Sean Conlan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan has not received any agri-environment options scheme payments for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44008/14]

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 2012 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 3) with effect from 1 May 2013.

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, have to be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks a query arose in respect of land parcels declared which required digitisation. The digitisation process was recently completed by my Department and payment will issue as soon as possible once all remaining validations have been successfully completed.

The person named submitted a 2014 Single Payment Scheme application on 14 April 2014. Processing of this application has recently been finalised with payment due to issue shortly, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Departmental Meetings

 231. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will meet with the chairman, secretary and treasurer of Horse Care Ireland; and if he will provide a date for such a meeting. [44009/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Due to ongoing commitments at EU and National level across both my portfolios I am unable to meet with Horse Care Ireland at present. However a meeting can be facilitated with relevant officials in my Department and in this regard the Deputy should contact my office to make the necessary arrangements.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 232. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason for non-payment of a disadvantaged areas scheme 2014 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; if he will review this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44039/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 14 May 2014. Payment has not yet issued to the person named as, at this stage, the holding concerned has not yet satisfied the Scheme’s minimum stocking density requirements. As soon as the holding concerned is confirmed as having met these requirements, the case will be further processed with a view to payment issuing to the person named at the earliest possible date thereafter, provided all other Scheme requirements have been satisfied.


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