Defence Forces Equipment

Questions (544)

Finian McGrath

Question:

544. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the reason the Reserve Defence Forces are made to buy their own boots and water as they do not have proper equipment; the reason these forces have extra hours in 2013-2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10425/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Military Authorities have advised me that boots are issued to members of the Reserve and there is no requirement for members of the Reserve to purchase these at their own expense. Nor are Reservists obliged to purchase water for personal consumption when engaged in military duties.

The recently published Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force recommended that the Regulatory criteria currently governing the classification of Reservists as effective or non-effective be reviewed. These criteria set out, amongst other requirements, the minimum hours of attendance at training activities. There is a requirement to ensure that these criteria reflect attendance requirements that are consistent with the capabilities required of the Reserve Defence Force. This may include revised hours of attendance and the Military Authorities are progressing proposals in this regard.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (545)

Pat Breen

Question:

545. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment of the agri environment option scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9668/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on 14th November 2012.

The initial processing of the applications has been completed and acknowledgement letters have issued to all applicants. The detailed actions listed in each application are currently being recorded and all applications will be ranked and selected according to the predetermined selection criteria. This process is expected to take several weeks and letters will issue to all applicants informing them of the outcome of the selection process in due course. In the event that any queries arise on the application of the person named during this process officials in my Department will be in direct contact with the person named.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

Questions (546)

Pat Breen

Question:

546. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for a decision in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9535/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Single Payment Scheme is governed by the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009, Commission Regulation (EC) No 1120/2009 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1122/2009.

During the validation of the land declared by the person named in the application for the purposes of payment, it was established by this Department there was an over-claim in respect the land in question. Notwithstanding that my Department had provided a pre-printed application form for the 2012 Scheme to the person named, showing the revised reference area available on this land parcel, the person named declared an area considerably higher than was available when lodging the application.

The 2012 SPS application form and the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme made provision for the procedures to be followed by applicants, who decided to claim an area in excess of the reference area.

- Column 5 of the application form provided that “The claimed area in Column 7 should not exceed this area. If it does, you must complete Column 6 and supply a map or other evidence to verify the new claim.”

- Column 6 of the application, which provided for possible changes to the reference area, states that “If you wish to request an amendment to the Reference area of a parcel, place an “X” in this column ...” It also states that “ Mapping of other evidence of change must be submitted to support any request under this column.”

- Column 7, which catered for the claimed area again emphasises this point by stating that “The reference area (see Column 5) should not be exceeded without marking X in Column against this parcel and submitting maps or other evidence of a change parcel in size”

Notwithstanding the above, the person named claimed a higher area when submitting the 2012 SPS application than that established by my Department. However, while recognising that the land was over-claimed, this Department decided to continue the processing of the application of the person named and, on completion of the validation process, to make payments without using the over-claimed area i.e. no penalty was calculated, or applied, in respect of the over-declaration.

A supplementary payment is due to the person named, following the adjustment in the reference areas of the parcels in question; this payment, which will issue shortly, will be calculated on the basis of the recognised share which the person named has in the parcels in question.

Sheep Census

Questions (547)

Derek Nolan

Question:

547. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of flocks of sheep in County Galway that were recorded in 2012 and of these flocks, the number of female sheep that were recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9547/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There is a legal requirement on all flock owners to complete and return the annual Sheep Census form. While the closing date for the return to my Department of completed 2012 Sheep Census forms had initially been fixed for 11 January 2013, I subsequently decided to extend the closing date to 25 January 2013 in order to give farmers sufficient time to complete and return the Census, as I was particularly mindful of the additional data farmers are being asked to provide. Processing of these forms is ongoing and it will be some time yet before the statistics from the 2012 Census will become available; the Deputy will be aware that a comprehensive report is published annually, following processing of the Census returns.

For information, data from the 2011 Sheep Census for County Galway are as follows:

Number of flocks

Average flock size

Breeding Ewes over 12 months old

Rams

Other sheep

Total sheep

4,121

94

260,028

8,226

120,938

389,082

Food Labelling

Questions (548)

John Halligan

Question:

548. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to extend the checks for horse DNA to other products which may contain beef products such as inter alia dried soups, gravy granules, dried beef products and powder mixes for casseroles, stews, bolognese and lasagne; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9567/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

DNA testing has been deployed in recent times as part of the FSAI’s proactive approach to food authenticity and food fraud control programmes in this country. It was this testing which first uncovered the issue relating to mislabelling of meat that has since become a matter of concern across Europe.

In light of recent developments, officials from my Department and the FSAI met with the meat processing sector on 14th February to agree a national protocol for DNA testing of meat to be applied at retail, catering and processing level in Ireland. This testing will provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad about the authenticity of ingredients in our meat based products. DNA testing will apply from now on as part of routine food testing across the country. The following categories of food are being tested – pre-packaged beef products on sale to the final consumer or to mass caterers, beef products offered for sale without pre-packaging to consumers or to mass caterers and meat ingredients used in processed beef products. The results will be made known to the public. The industry has already been engaged in product testing and results received by the FSAI to date have all been negative for equine DNA (except for 5 positives which related to products previously identified as a problem and which had already been removed from the market).

In addition, at the instigation of the EU Commission and with the strong support of the Irish Presidency, a coordinated EU plan was agreed on 15th February whereby the DNA testing of meat and meat products may commence immediately and will be co-funded by the Commission at a rate of 75 per cent for the first month. Results from the first round of tests, to be carried out by the end of March, will have to be reported to the Commission by 15th April. The number of DNA tests, which will be carried out on the basis of representative sampling, is expected to exceed 2,250 across the EU, and this will be supplemented by bute testing on the basis of one sample per 50 tonnes of horsemeat. This testing will contribute to a clearer understanding of the situation across Europe and may be extended for a further two months. As part of the EU-wide plan, 50 additional food samples will be checked for horse DNA during March in Ireland. These include products marketed or labelled as containing beef as a major ingredient such as minced meat, meat products and meat preparations. The results of these tests will also be published and will provide the basis for consideration of the need for any further action.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (549)

John O'Mahony

Question:

549. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their agri environment options scheme 2 payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9568/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1st September 2011 and full payment totalling €1,015.23 issued in respect of 2011.

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, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payments in respect of the 2012 Scheme year are subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investment through checks on receipts. These checks have been successfully completed and 75% payment totalling €2,850.27 issued on 25th February 2013. The balancing 25% payment will issue shortly.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Applications

Questions (550)

Dara Calleary

Question:

550. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo may expect to have a their REP scheme payment processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9570/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in February 2009 and received payments for the first three years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Pásanna Capall

Questions (551)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

551. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara cén uair a dhéanfar íocaíocht faoi scéim na limistéar faoi mhíbhuntáiste do 2012 le duine (sonraí leis seo), os rud é gur chuir sé ar aghaidh 7 bpas capaill chuig an Roinn; cén uair a chuirfear na pasanna seo ar ais chuig an duine seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [9580/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Deimhníodh le gairid go sásaítear coinníollacha na Scéime maidir le híosleibhéal dlús stocála ar ghabháltas an té a ainmnítear, tar éis fianaise a bhí in easnamh maidir le heachaithe a fháil. Féadadh dá bharr sin an phróiseáil ar an iarratas a thabhairt chun críche agus tá íocaíocht le heisiúint go gairid leis an gcuntas bainc a ainmníodh.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (552)

Tom Hayes

Question:

552. Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will inform a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary under what section of the agreement can payment to the herd owner under rural environment protection scheme 4 be cut; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9582/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payment under agri-environment schemes are made to compensate for income forgone and additional costs incurred by the scheme participants based on the type of commitments undertaken. In addition, an additional payment of up to 20% may be paid, where justified, based on “transaction costs” which are the costs incurred by participants in engaging with the scheme. Traditionally, this additional payment has been paid under REPS.

Given the on-going difficulties in the public finances and budgetary constraints on my Department, I have had no option but to make difficult decisions in the allocation of the funding available to many competing demands. In finalising my Department’s Estimates for 2012, I announced a 10% reduction in payments under REPS 4 from 2012 onwards. I decided that the reduction would be implemented by way of a cut to the transaction cost of participating farmers of from €28.03 to €5.60 on each hectare on which the a transaction cost was paid. The 2012 payment of the person named was adjusted accordingly. This resulted in a 2012 REPS 4 payment totalling €5,211.52, which issued to the person named in January 2013. Because of the particular circumstances of the person named, this represents a 7.9% reduction when compared to the 2011 payment which totalled €5,660.12.

Afforestation Programme

Questions (553)

Pat Breen

Question:

553. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment of a RDP afforestation grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9591/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A premium payment form (Form 4) has been received from this applicant by the Forest Service. This application is currently being processed for payment in the annual premium payment run and it is intended that this annual payment run will be made in early April 2013.

Harbours and Piers Expenditure

Questions (554)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

554. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will prioritise funding for pier improvement works at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9593/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Renard Pier is owned by Kerry County Council and responsibility for its repair and maintenance rests with the Local Authority in the first instance.

My Department provides funding for the development and repair of Local Authority owned piers and slipways as part of the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme.

In the context of the 2013 Programme, which is currently under consideration, I invited coastal Local Authorities, including Kerry County Council, to submit applications in order of priority for qualifying projects. Kerry County Council did not submit an application for funding of works at Renard Pier for 2013.

Any application submitted by Kerry County Council in respect of Renard Pier under the Capital Programme in future years will be given consideration based on Exchequer funding and overall national priorities.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (555)

Noel Coonan

Question:

555. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a disadvantaged area payment will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9601/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The holding of the person named has recently been confirmed as having met the minimum stocking density requirements of the Scheme, following receipt of all outstanding evidence relating to equines on the holding. This has enabled processing of the application to be finalised, with payment issuing directly to the nominated bank account on 19 February 2013.

Harbours and Piers Expenditure

Questions (556, 557, 558)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

556. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will confirm if he is planning to introduce pay parking charges in Howth Fisheries Harbour County Dublin at a rate of €8 per day even though local residents, community, marine and business groups are all strongly opposed to the introduction of such charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9628/13]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

557. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide details of the cost benefit analysis undertaken in relation to his plans for pay parking charges in Howth, County Dublin; if he will indicate the estimated total revenue accrued on an annual basis from his proposed introduction of pay parking charges in comparison with the potential reduction in visitor numbers and the serious negative knock-on effects for the local economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9629/13]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

558. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide more information on the alleged safety and emergency concerns that his Department is aware of in relation to current car parking in Howth Harbour, County Dublin; the person who raised these concerns with his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9630/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 556 to 558, inclusive, together.

As I have said a number of times recently in response to previous questions, Howth Fishery Harbour Centre is first and foremost a working fishery harbour. It is one of 6 Fishery Harbour Centres operated by the State, each of whose primary purpose is to provide facilities and services for the fishing industry and fisheries-related activities.

There has been significant capital investment in the Fishery Harbour Centres in recent years, underpinning both the fisheries side and, in parallel, their expanding use for leisure and marine tourism and other maritime enterprises. Howth in particular has a long tradition in both areas. All of the users of the Fishery Harbour need to be accommodated in a safe and secure facility, and the Department has a duty of care towards anyone entering it. Apart from any other considerations, the upkeep of the Harbour so that it meets with current health and safety standards has a cost and this cost must be paid for out of the income generated.

In the current economic climate, the State must be fully committed to maximising the return on its investment. Furthermore, my Department is required to ensure that the Fishery Harbour Centres are run on a financially sound basis.

With over 500 parking spaces within the boundaries of the Fishery Harbour Centre at present, it is clear that a significant source of revenue exists that could assist in balancing the books, and providing funding for enhancements that would not otherwise be possible.

I am reviewing all aspects of the matter at present. I can assure the Deputy that the views of the various harbour users, the potential earnings, the possible impact on the harbour businesses and recreational users, the impact on the local economy, the impact on overall traffic management within the Fishery Harbour, are all matters that I will take into account in coming to a decision.

Afforestation Programme

Questions (559)

Michael Creed

Question:

559. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an afforestation application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9640/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The application for pre-planting approval submitted by the person named is located within a Special Protection Area (SPA) designated for the protection of the hen harrier. Because of restrictions that apply to planting and other developments within this designated area, it is not possible to approve the application to plant.

Any future afforestation within the SPA must take into account the results of recent Hen Harrier breeding and distribution surveys, the availability of suitable habitat, existing forest cover, age profile of existing forests, and the effects of other cumulative developments on hen harrier populations e.g. wind farms.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is in the process of developing a Threat Response Plan (TRP) for the conservation of Hen harriers. Forestry will form a significant element of the plan, particularly in relation to overall forest restructuring. Pending the completion of the TRP and forestry components therein, my Department is not in a position to make a determination on the potential impact of afforestation projects on Hen harriers within the SPA and is not, therefore, in a position to approve any afforestation projects within the SPA at this time. My Department is working with NPWS in the development of the TRP which will determine the circumstances in which further afforestation, if any, might be accommodated in Hen harrier SPAs without impacting on the conservation of the species.

An Scéim Íocaíochta Aonair

Questions (560)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

560. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine cén uair a dhéanfar íocaíocht faoi scéim na limistéar faoi mhíbhuntáiste agus scéim na haoníocaíochta le duine (sonraí leis seo); an mbíonn pionós i gceist i gcás gach scéime acu sin; agus má bhíonn, cén méid pionóis a bhíonn i gceist [9655/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Maidir leis an Scéim Íocaíochta Aonair, bhí an t-iarratas ar cheann de roinnt iarratas a roghnaíodh lena scrúdú i ndáil le hinghlacthacht d'fhonn coinníollacha de chuid an AE a shásamh. Ba é toradh na cigireachta sin go bhfuarthas go ndearnadh rómhaíomh idir 3% agus 20% i ndáil leis an achar, agus laghdaíodh an íocaíocht, faoi rialacha agus coinníollacha na Scéime, dá thoradh sin. Cuireadh laghdú iomlán €281.99 i bhfeidhm i ndáil leis an rómhaíomh. Eisíodh íocaíocht €1,110.39 i ndáil leis an achar inghlactha ar an 7 Feabhra 2013 leis an gcuntas bainc a d'ainmnigh an t-iarratasóir. Cuireadh toradh na cigireachta in iúl don iarratasóir i litir dar dáta an 1 Feabhra 2013 chomh maith le heolas faoin gceart athbhreithniú ar an gcinneadh a lorg. Is féidir achomharc a dhéanamh in am tráth a leis an Oifig Achomharc Talmhaíochta, atá neamhspleách, maidir le toradh an athbhreithnithe.

Faoi Scéim na Limistéar faoi Mhíbhuntáiste 2012, éilítear go mbeadh coinníoll maidir le híosleibhéal dlús stocála 0.15 aonad beostoic á sásamh ar ghabháltas iarratasóirí inghlactha ar feadh tréimhse coinneála sé mhí as a chéile, chomh maith le cloí le meánleibhéal bliantúil 0.15 aonad beostoic arna ríomh ar feadh dhá mhí dhéag bhliain na scéime. Ó tharla nach bhfuil deimhnithe gur sásaíodh íoschoinníollacha na scéime maidir le dlús stocála ar ghabháltas an té a ainmnítear, níl aon íocaíocht dlite faoi Scéim na bliana 2012.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (561)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

561. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be paid their 2012 disadvantaged area scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9656/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the holdings of eligible applicants were required to have met a minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units for a retention period of six consecutive months, in addition to maintaining an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year.

As my Department has not, to date, received any evidence of livestock on the holding concerned, no payment is due.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (562)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

562. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under the agri-environment options scheme will issue in respect of a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9657/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1st September 2011.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme, a comprehensive administrative check of all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. An outstanding query in relation to one commonage parcel has now been satisfactorily resolved and I expect payment for 2011 to issue shortly to the person named.

Payments in respect of the 2012 Scheme year are subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investments through checks on receipts. These checks have now been completed and following the payment for 2011, the payment in respect of 2012 will be finalised.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (563)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

563. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under REP scheme and the disadvantaged area scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing these payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9658/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in March 2008 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (564)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

564. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under REP scheme for 2012 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9659/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in June 2009 and received payments for the first three years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Questions (565)

Tom Fleming

Question:

565. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will invetsigate a derogation case in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9678/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named is one of a number of applicants under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, whose cases are impacted by the requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011. My Department wrote to all concerned applicants in August 2012 giving them the opportunity to seek derogation from this requirement.

To date, my Department has no record of receiving an application for derogation in this case. Arrangements have been made for the reissue of this application form to the person concerned.