48,580 applications were received by my Department under the Farm Waste Management Scheme by the closing date of end-December 2006. This figure includes incomplete applications (e.g. missing the required drawings) and those for which planning permission has either not yet been applied for or is still awaited. Farmers and their advisers have until end-March 2007 to submit the required drawings and, where planning permission is required, to confirm that they have applied for planning permission. Of course, approval to proceed with the works concerned cannot issue until written evidence of the issue of such planning permission has been received by my Department.
To date, approx. 10,600 approvals have been issued to farmers to commence work under the Scheme and revised arrangements are being introduced later this week to speed up the approval process under the Scheme. The staffing levels in the local AES offices of my Department are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the necessary staffing resources are in place to ensure delivery of the Scheme.
The revised Standard Costings for 2007 which are used to calculate grants payable under the Scheme will be issued shortly and will be applied to all approvals issued by my Department to commence work under the Scheme since 1 January 2007.