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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 401-416
 Header Item Organic Farming
 Header Item Organic Farming Scheme
 Header Item Organic Farming Scheme
 Header Item Organic Farming
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Applications
 Header Item Beekeeping Industry
 Header Item Afforestation Programme
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Calafoirt agus Céanna
 Header Item Calafoirt agus Céanna
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item Community Development Projects

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 401-416

Organic Farming

 401. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of hectares under organic production by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18039/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Based on 2020 BPS details, the total area of organic and organic in-conversion land in each county is as follows.

County Organic Area (hectares)
CARLOW 238.63
CAVAN 3,348.72
CLARE 2,791.77
CORK 8,989.53
DONEGAL 2,437.97
DUBLIN 376.62
GALWAY 6,616.42
KERRY 5,502.53
KILDARE 1,402.87
KILKENNY 1,702.48
LAOIS 2,547.33
LEITRIM 3,670.45
LIMERICK 4,229.48
LONGFORD 1,141.06
LOUTH 244.03
MAYO 1,936.81
MEATH 1,383.82
MONAGHAN 1,057.45
OFFALY 2,509.15
ROSCOMMON 7,491.9
SLIGO 1,902.93
TIPPERARY 4,772.41
WATERFORD 1,029.95
WESTMEATH 2,737.01
WEXFORD 1,422.7
WICKLOW 1,976.85

Organic Farming Scheme

 402. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of participants in the organic farming scheme by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18040/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The table below gives the number of participants in my Department's Organic Farming Scheme in 2020.

County Total
Carlow <10
Cavan 68
Clare 68
Cork 189
Donegal 40
Dublin <10
Galway 93
Kerry 83
Kildare 37
Kilkenny 41
Laois 45
Leitrim 91
Limerick 103
Longford 27
Louth <10
Mayo 39
Meath 28
Monaghan 29
Offaly 57
Roscommon 170
Sligo 34
Tipperary 113
Waterford 24
Westmeath 57
Wexford 40
Wicklow 34

Organic Farming Scheme

 403. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the average amount received by participant in the organic farming scheme by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18041/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Based on payments that issued in 2020 under the Organic Farming Scheme, the average amount received by farmers in each county is as follows;

County Average payment
Carlow €9,504.27
Cavan €5,270.95
Clare €5,296.03
Cork €6,102.71
Donegal €5,285.16
Dublin €7,389.21
Galway €5,782.36
Kerry €5,782.48
Kildare €6,019.76
Kilkenny €6,408.80
Laois €7,838.39
Leitrim €4,439.40
Limerick €5,288.10
Longford €5,146.13
Louth €9,681.52
Mayo €5,664.80
Meath €5,769.36
Monaghan €6,059.64
Offaly €5,910.45
Roscommon €5,607.63
Sligo €6,015.61
Tipperary €6,211.60
Waterford €6,170.77
Westmeath €5,892.30
Wexford €5,103.23
Wicklow €5,975.96


  The table above refers to all payments under the Organic Farming Scheme that issued in 2020. It must be noted that 70% of farmers who are in the Organic Farming Scheme are also participants in GLAS. Farmers who select certain actions on a land parcel in GLAS may not be entitled to a payment under the Organic Farming Scheme on the same land parcel.

  The calculation of the payment due to a farmer under the Organic Farming Scheme includes a stocking density calculation. In order to receive the full payment, a stocking density of 0.5 livestock units per hectare is required. For farmers who do not have this stocking level a pro-rata payment will issue.

Organic Farming

 404. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the percentage of farmland and number of hectares he is targeting for organic production by 2030; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18042/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The organic sector in Ireland is a relatively small component of the overall agri-food sector with less than 2% of the land area under organic production. However, it is experiencing considerable growth at present with the area of land under organic production now at approximately 74,000 hectares, an increase of nearly 50% since 2014.

I am committed to continuing the implementation of the National Organic Strategy 2019-2025 which sets out ambitious growth targets for the sector by aligning it closely with the market opportunities.

The current Programme for Government target is to align the utilisable agricultural area under organic production in Ireland with the EU average of 7.5%.

The increase in land under organic production in recent years has been driven by the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). I was pleased, therefore, to reopen the OFS this year with a budget of €4 million which should allow for a further 400 - 500 farmers entering the Scheme. The expected increase in area under organic production as a result of this reopening together with measures under the new CAP will assist in the achievement of these targets.

Agriculture Scheme Applications

 405. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of applications received for compensation as a result of avian influenza from 2020 to date in tabular form; the number of successful applications; the number of successful applicants that have since received their compensation in full to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18043/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue There were a number of outbreaks of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in early 2020. Although there is no legal ground for a mandatory compensation scheme in respect of this particular subtype, my Department agreed to establish a once-off ex gratia financial support scheme to provide some support to those affected.

  The deadline for receipt of applications was 31st July 2020. All affected flock owners were eligible to apply and were eligible for support, subject to meeting the criteria as laid down in the terms and conditions for this once-off ex-gratia support scheme. Thirteen applications for the scheme were received and all 13 applications were successful. Payments of these ex-gratia supports to flock owners were issued in late November 2020.

  In December 2020, there was one outbreak of notifiable Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8. Three flocks were depopulated on foot of this outbreak – the infected flock and two additional risk flocks as a precautionary measure. Compensation for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is provided for in legislation and is progressing in relation to these flocks.

Beekeeping Industry

 406. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the regulations governing the importation of non-native bees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18044/21]

 407. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his attention has been drawn to the threat posed to native bees as a result of the importation of non-native bees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18045/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 406 and 407 together.

I fully acknowledge the important contribution bees make to agriculture and biodiversity as both pollinators and honey producers. In this regard, my Department provides a range of supports and initiatives to encourage and assist beekeepers and the national beekeeping associations. These supports include funding to carry out applied research through the National Apiculture Programme, grants to national beekeeping associations and grant aid to fund capital investments for beekeepers. My Department has funded a number of studies under the Genetic Research Grant Aid Scheme looking at various aspects of this honeybee species and specifically apis mellifera melliferra. In 2021, funding has been allocated for an innovative queen rearing project.

In relation to the importation of honeybees into Ireland, this is allowed under regulations governing intra community trade with other EU Member States. The specific health requirements for trading in bees are laid out in Council Directive 92/65/EEC. All imports of bees must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of export after a physical inspection of the bees and their packaging has taken place. This is to ensure that imported bees are healthy and do not harbour pathogens or parasites that may be harmful to our native bee stocks.

Afforestation Programme

 408. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the incentives that are planned to re-engage farmers with forestry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18046/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I fully acknowledge that farmers are central to reaching our ambitious afforestation targets and have been the backbone of the afforestation programme in Ireland since its inception. It is clear that there has been a reduction in engagement from farmers and while there are likely multiple reasons for this, one contributory factor is likely the delays in issuing forestry licences. In order to address the twin objectives of addressing licensing issues and encouraging woodland creation, Project Woodland has been set up under the leadership of Minister-of-State Hackett, who has responsibility for forestry.

  It involves four different Working Groups reporting to the Minister through a Project Manager and a Project Board. The Working Groups are working concurrently, focussing on different areas. The first will concentrate on the backlog, the second on a vision for forestry, the third on devising a fit-for-purpose organisational structure and communication and the fourth on streamlining the licensing process for the future. Through this framework, it is hoped that a renewed confidence in forestry will be fostered, that communication of its benefits will be more widely understood and that, looking to the future, a new vision for forestry in Ireland will be developed.

  In relation to incentives for farmers in future Forestry Programmes, Working Group 2 – "A Shared National Approach" of Project Woodland - has been tasked with developing a new Forestry Strategy and work in this group has started. This work will inform any new incentives to be introduced in the successor to the current Forestry Programme. It will be farmer-centred and will be aimed at re-engaging farmers with forestry.

  Forestry has a number of benefits for farmers including on-farm income diversification. Farmers who are interested in receiving information and advice on the available supports provided by my Department are encouraged to contact their Farm Advisor or Teagasc Forestry Advisor. In addition, details on all Forestry Grant Schemes are available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/642e6-forestry/.

  It remains the case that the afforestation of private lands is the focus of the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020 which commenced in 2015 and has recently been extended to the end of 2022. This programme consists of 11 separate measures to encourage the planting of forests, also with specific supports for farmers.

  Measures included in the programme are voluntary and comprise the main Afforestation Scheme which is delivered through the generous grants and premiums available, across 12 different planting categories, covering 100% of the cost of establishing new forests and also providing annual premium payments which are paid for 15 years. In addition, farmers can benefit from supports for the establishment of new forest roads, as well as the thinning of a forest plantation.

  Agro forestry is also supported under the current forestry programme which allows for grazing of animals to take place on land that is also planted with trees. The forestry for fibre category provides for the planting of eucalyptus and popular which can be harvested after 15 years, a much shorter rotation than traditional forestry where clearfell could take place between 35 and 40 years from the date of planting. Timber from this type of planting can be used for domestic heating on the farm itself or supplied to local markets to meet a growing demand for firewood.

  It is notable that during the course of the current Forestry Programme so far, this approach has resulted in 2,500 farmers planting a total of 16,000 hectares of forestry on their land.

Forestry Sector

 409. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the action he plans to take to reform the forestry licensing system and to address the manner in which it discriminates against farmers unable to complete their own NIS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18047/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I am aware of the issues facing the forestry sector and considerable efforts have been made to address them. Additional resources have been recruited and training, information and guidance has been provided to both Departmental staff and registered foresters and, as a result, we have seen gains in terms of output. Nonetheless we know we must do more to deliver a better service.

The introduction of Project Woodland, recently launched by Minister of State Pippa Hackett, with responsibility for forestry, is our strategy for resolving the licensing issues. This new structure aims to ensure that the current backlog is addressed. The Project involves a review and refresh of our processes and procedures and includes outside stakeholder participation to bring an independent perspective. It is a task-driven process, with clear deliverable and milestones.

Working Group 1 under Project Woodland is specifically tasked with reducing the backlog and then plotting a trajectory to achieve this target. The recommendation in Ms Jo O'Hara's Implementation Report is that this Group publish a process to achieve these targets, including prioritisation and scheduling and that a monthly dashboard show the outcome of this process against the target trajectory. Meanwhile, Working Group 4 will address Effective Processes, which will include clearer explanations for the statutory basis for forestry regulation and the introduction of more efficient and effective processes. Working Group 4 will also consider piloting an environmental report process with a recommendation for where this should be used, alongside grant support. I expect there will be cross-cutting issues between these two groups.

The NIS is used across all development applications in the national and other planning processes and arises as part of compliance, where relevant, with the Appropriate Assessment process under the Habitats Directive. In cases where an NIS is required and not provided by the applicant, the Department will carry out the ecological assessment. However, providing an NIS will significantly reduce the time taken to process the application.

Forestry Sector

 410. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if the role of project manager of project woodland is a full-time position; the number of hours allocated to this role per week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18048/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Project Woodland, under the leadership of Minister-of-State Hackett, who has responsibility for forestry, is an initiative to tackle issues in forestry in Ireland and to promote and encourage woodland creation.

It involves four different Working Groups reporting to Minister Hackett through a Project Manager and a Project Board. The project Board is being chaired by the Secretary General.

The Working Groups are working concurrently, focussing on different areas. The first one will concentrate on the backlog, the second on a vision for forestry, the third on devising a fit for purpose organisational structure and communication, and the fourth on streamlining the licensing process for the future.

Each Working Group is made up of stakeholders drawn from the Minister’s existing Forestry Policy Group and is chaired by an independent, experienced outsider. All Groups have met already and the Project Manger has updated the Project Board on the outcomes from those meetings, with good progress being made and plans for meeting the milestones and objectives of the Groups being put in place. These groups are supported, as appropriate, by resources within my Department.

The Project Manager is the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for forestry and agri-environment schemes within my Department. As such his role is intrinsically linked with the delivery of actions from the Mackinnon Report, which is being facilitated through Project Woodland. He will be supported by a full time Management Professional and a systems analyst who are currently being recruited.

I am committed, along with Minister Hackett, to the success of Project Woodland and all appropriate resources across my Department will be in place to ensure that it can be delivered for the benefit of the forestry sector and society.

Calafoirt agus Céanna

 411. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le síneadh a chur le céibh Inis Oírr; cén uair atá súil ag a Roinn le tairiscintí a lorg don obair seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [17851/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Mar is eol don Teachta is iad Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe atá freagrach as Cé Inis Oírr agus is iadsan a bheidh ag tabhairt faoi aon phróiseas tairisceana. Tá mo Roinn agus an Comhairle Chontae ag obair le chéile le tamall chun an cás gnó maidir leis an bhforbairt a thabhairt chun críche.

Pléadh an cás gnó ag cruinniú don ghrúpa ard-bhainistíochta na Roinne an t-seachtain seo, agus tá i gceist agam a gcuid tuairimí maidir leis an gcás a mheas i ndiaidh briseadh na Cásca.

Calafoirt agus Céanna

 412. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys cén dul chun cinn atá déanta ar fhorbairt na céibhe in Inis Meáin; cén uair atá súil ag a Roinn go n-aontófar dearadh don obair sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [17852/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Tá teagmháil rialta idir oifigigh na Roinne agus oifigigh an Chomhairle Contae chun forbairt an Chalaidh Mhóir in Inis Meáin, a phlé.

  I 2020 chuir mo Roinn maoiniú ar fáil do Chomhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe, chun ionsamhlú den chéibh a choimisiniú ón gColáiste Náisiúnta Mara na hÉireann - National Maritime College Ireland (NMCI).

  Tuigtear dom nach raibh rochtain ar an áis NMCI ag an Comhairle Contae fós de bharr na srianta ag eascairt as COVID-19. Faoi láthair tá Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe ag plé leis an NMCI faoi bhealaí chun an obair a chur chun cinn agus chun deis a thabhairt do ionadaithe ón oileán a bheith páirteach, ag cur san áireamh na treorlínnte maidir le sláinte poiblí agus srianta taistil.

  Nuair a bheidh an chuid seo don togra curtha chun gcríoch beidhfear ábalta dul ar aghaidh leis an chéad chuid eile d'fhorbairt na céibhe ar a n-áirítear an dearadh.

Departmental Staff

 413. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in her Department by gender in tabular form. [17916/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The below table provides a breakdown of staff at the grade of higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in this Department by gender only:

Grade Male Female
Assistant Secretary 1 2
Principal Officer 9 4
Assistant Principal Officer 14 12
Administration Officer 2 6
Higher Executive Officer 12 26

Departmental Data

 414. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types her Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17978/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien The COVID-19 Stability Fund for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises was a cross-Government initiative, led by the Department of Rural and Community Development, with administrative support provided by Pobal.

Application data was shared with the Department of Health in order to facilitate application appraisal and grant approval, in line with the terms and conditions of the application process. The information shared was all non-personal and did not extend to any personal information.

General Data Protection Regulation

 415. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of complaints her Department has received from members of the public under the heading of GDPR and data information requests since 2018 to date in 2021; the number of data information requests that have been refused and accepted, respectively; the number of GDPR requests refused; and the basis on which they were declined in tabular form. [17997/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has not received any complaints from members of the public under the heading of GDPR in the timeframe set out. The annual figures for data information requests, also known as subject access requests, received are outlined below:

   2018: 0

   2019: 0

   2020: 1   This request was withdrawn and was handled under Freedom of Information legislation

   2021 to date: 0

Community Development Projects

 416. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the organisations and groups supported by the scheme to support national organisations in the community and voluntary sector; the funding each has received from 1 January 2020 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18015/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien The Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (SSNO) is a key element of my Department's support for the role of the sector in contributing to the development of strong and vibrant civil society and in improving outcomes for those most disadvantaged. The scheme provides multi-annual funding towards core costs of national, community and voluntary organisations that demonstrate good governance and deliver services and supports that have a focus on one or more of the following: addressing poverty, social exclusion and promoting equality.

  The current scheme commenced on 1 July 2019 and will expire on 30 June 2022. The scheme is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department.

  The total allocation for the duration of the scheme 2019-2022 is €18.8m. Funding has been allocated to 74 national community and voluntary organisations to cover the 36 month period of the scheme, as set out in the table below.

table


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