Written Answers. - EC Western Package.

402.

asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry the amount of the £20 million allocated in grants under the ten year pilot scheme, commenced four years ago to encourage the development of woodlands, which has been taken up; the funds that have been allocated under the scheme for (a) reafforestation, (b) new plantations, and (c) private woodlands; and if he will give the geographical location of the forests being developed under the scheme.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the forestry element of the EC Western Package which is aimed primarily at grant aiding the afforestation in 13 western counties of privately owned land which is marginal for agriculture but suitable for forestry. The scheme, which embraces associated activities such as ground preparation, scrub clearance, drainage, fertilisation, fencing, purchase of plants and protection and maintenance of plantations, came into operation on 15 April 1981.

Despite various publicity measures by my Department and the availability of a free technical advisory service the response to the scheme has been disappointing but there are now some indications of increasing interest, especially since the holding of a special workshop on the subject under my Department's auspices last May.

The extent to which grants are paid inevitably depends on the response from the private sector in terms of land actually planted. Up to 31 December 1984 a total area of 3,217 hectares, involving grants amounting to approximately £1.8 million has been approved for planting; the actual area planted at that date was 631 hectares in respect of which grants totalling £294,412 have been paid.