Agri-Environment Options Scheme Eligibility

Questions (43)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

43. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the criteria used in determining eligibility for agri-environment options scheme 3; the number of farmers in each category that were allowed into the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29357/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A total of 9,703 applications were received by my Department under the re-opened Agri-environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and 6,000 applicants have now been approved for participation in the scheme.

The approval of applicants was determined by the following priority selection criteria: applicants within a targeted area of the Boora region of Co. Offaly who select Wild Bird Cover Option B (Grey Partridge) will get first access; applicants with eligible Natura land will get access next; applicants with at least 0.5 hectares of Utilisable Agricultural Non-Natura Commonage land rank next; farm partnerships; previous Participation in REPS; farm size (favouring smaller holding) based on the utilisable agricultural area; and finally location of farms in less favoured areas.

A total of 4,483 applicants selecting Grey Partridge, Natura and Commonage actions were approved into the scheme and the remaining 1,517 applicants selected had all previously participated in REPS and had a reference area of 22.06 ha or less on their 2012 Single Payment Scheme application.

All approved applicants were awarded a commencement date of May 1 2013, and their contracts will run for a period of five years and eight months which will extend their duration beyond the expiry of the current programming period of 31 December 2013. Participants in the scheme will be offered the opportunity to adjust their commitments for the remainder of the period of their contract to the legal framework of the next programme period which is currently under negotiation. If such an adjustment is not acceptable to the participant he/she may withdraw from the schemes without any requirement for reimbursement of aid already received.

Coillte Teoranta Lands

Questions (44)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

44. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he and his Department have had discussions with Coillte regarding the future use of Coillte land and forests here with particular reference to the need to ensure good forestry management and development and the retention of community and amenity based usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29340/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of the State’s forestry estate, are the responsibility of the company.

I am aware that Coillte, as part of its management of some 442,000 hectares of the national forest estate, plays a significant role in the provision of forest recreational opportunities for the general public, thereby continuing a long tradition of open access to state owned forests. This role includes the management of ten Forest Parks and over 150 recreation sites throughout Ireland. In this context, I have previously noted the importance of Donadea Forest Park as a recreational amenity in North Kildare. I am conscious that such recreational facilities are also very valuable resources as tourism attractions in the various regions.

I understand that, as the company’s statement of strategy ran until the end of 2012, the company and Board will be preparing a new draft statement of strategy, which, under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, will then be submitted to me. My Department and I will then have an opportunity to engage with the company in relation to their proposals for the future management of the State’s forestry estate.

Aquaculture Licences Applications

Questions (45)

Brendan Smith

Question:

45. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when he will issue the 100 aquaculture licence applications outside of the areas designated under the Habitats Directive which he indicated to Dáil Éireann on the 25 of September had been cleared for payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29367/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Determinations in respect of the licences referred to by the Deputy were made in 2012 and numbered 115.

The breakdown is as follows: 53 in Killary, 44 in Inner Bantry, three in Kinsale, ten in Dungloe, one in Trawenagh, one in Dunmanus Bay, two in Oysterhaven and one in Ventry.

To date 59 of the above licences have issued to applicants. The remaining are either under appeal to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board or in final preparation for issue to applicants.

Aquaculture Licences Applications

Questions (46)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

46. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when aquaculture licences will be issued in areas designated under the Habitats Directive, where appropriate assessments have been carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29369/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The European Court of Justice declared in case C418/04 that, by failing to take all the measures necessary to comply with Article 6(3) of Directive 92/43 (Habitats Directive) in respect of authorisation of aquaculture programmes, Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under that Directive.

In the negotiations to address the judgment a process was agreed with the European Commission which would lead to full compliance by Ireland with the relevant EU Directives. This process includes the following steps: a detailed data collection in 91 Bays/Estuaries; detailed analysis of raw data collected; setting of Conservation Objectives by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in respect of each site; carrying out Appropriate Assessments of each licence application/fishery plan against the detailed Conservation Objectives set; and determination of Licences/Fisheries on the basis of the Appropriate Assessment and other relevant factors.

The data collection programme is substantially complete. Analysis of the data, together with the setting of appropriate conservation objectives by the NPWS, will enable all new, renewal and review applications to be appropriately assessed for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. This work represents a significant financial, administrative and scientific investment by the State in resolving this issue.

While the Appropriate Assessments are carried out on a bay by bay basis, each licence application within the bay must be assessed individually. Factors to be considered include location within the bay, species, scale etc. In addition to the Natura requirements, under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive all licence applications must undergo an Environmental Impact pre-screening assessment. This requires significant input from the Department’s scientific and technical advisors. All applications, in compliance with the requirements of the Aarhus Directive, are advertised in order to facilitate public consultation, and submissions or observations received must be considered as part of the licence application determination process.

Conservation objectives had been set in relation to a significant number of bays and Appropriate Assessments have been carried in four bays (Castlemaine, Dundalk, Lough Swilly and Roaringwater). I am pleased to inform the Deputy that as a result of the above process I have made aquaculture Determinations in respect of applications in Castlemaine.

My Department continues to make every effort to expedite the determination of aquaculture licence applications having regard to the need to comply with all relevant national and EU legislation.