Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 31.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (55)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

55. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of disadvantaged area scheme applications that were received in 2012; the number paid to date, broken down on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29364/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payments under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced on 26 September and, to date, payments worth in excess of €208 million have issued to 95,449 farmers. Payments continue to issue twice weekly, as individual cases are confirmed eligible. Details are as follows:

County Name

Applied

Paid

Gross Amount

Carlow

755

714

€1,466,087.57

Cavan

4,851

4,614

€9,976,266.07

Clare

6,130

5,803

€13,967,420.03

Cork

7,130

6,755

€15,455,533.84

Donegal

8,484

7,790

€18,085,842.99

Dublin

134

118

€252,813.43

Galway

12,163

11,248

€24,401,460.41

Kerry

7,719

7,216

€17,794,743.56

Kildare

523

472

€833,206.18

Kilkenny

1,767

1,671

€3,497,897.81

Laois

1,725

1,622

€3,203,485.50

Leitrim

3,482

3,257

€7,320,796.01

Limerick

2,934

2,734

€5,400,595.71

Longford

2,392

2,282

€5,007,916.82

Louth

755

690

€1,146,857.18

Mayo

11,630

10,836

€23,238,097.90

Meath

1,357

1,270

€2,302,446.80

Monaghan

4,106

3,881

€7,692,713.58

Offaly

2,396

2,258

€4,501,523.04

Roscommon

5,746

5,429

€11,953,810.79

Sligo

4,065

3,758

€8,158,720.05

Tipperary

4,532

4,266

€9,075,111.17

Waterford

1,449

1,334

€2,717,229.94

Westmeath

2,651

2,507

€5,078,262.64

Wexford

1,432

1,294

€2,372,421.66

Wicklow

1,749

1,630

€3,967,476.54

TOTALS

102,057

95,449

€208,868,737.22

Fodder Crisis

Questions (56)

Brendan Smith

Question:

56. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to ensure there will be adequate fodder for the coming winter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29352/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

It is important that we do as much as we can over the next few months to ensure that Irish farmers are not faced with the same issues and difficulties next Winter as experienced earlier this year in sourcing adequate fodder for their animals. Accordingly, Teagasc’s Interagency Fodder Committee is currently monitoring the fodder situation while also examining and co-ordinating the next steps required to ensure that there is a strategic approach to fodder production and conservation to ensure continuity of supply. I have also asked the Interagency Fodder Committee to report to the High Level Implementation Committee of Food Harvest 2020 which I chair, on the outlook for the rest of this year and also to detail the actions being taken to ensure adequate fodder is available for next Winter.

It is also important that farmers are maximising grass production and fodder conservation in the coming period and I have asked Teagasc to prioritise this policy in their advisory campaigns over the summer months. In this context, adjustments to the Nitrates regulations recently agreed with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government will provide support to farmers to maximise grass growth and conservation into next Autumn.

Parking Charges

Questions (57, 62)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

57. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the amount of money that would be lost to local businesses in the Howth area, County Dublin, if parking charges were introduced at Howth Harbour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29211/13]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

62. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has given further consideration to his the plans to introduce parking charges in Howth Harbour, County Dublin in view of the weight of opposition from local business people, residents and community and sporting organisations to this measure; if he plans to meet local stakeholders to discuss the matter further; and if he intends to withdraw the proposed plan. [29210/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 62 together.

The House is aware that I have been considering introducing a charge for parking facilities within Howth Fishery Harbour Centre for some time,

· to assist in operating Howth Fishery Harbour Centre on a financially-sound basis,

· to provide a source of revenue for further investment in Fishery Harbour Centre facilities,

· as part of an overall traffic management plan, and

· in order to maximise the return on this significant State asset.

Howth Fishery Harbour Centre is first and foremost a working fishery harbour, one of 6 operated by the State, each of whose primary purpose is to provide facilities and services for the fishing industry and fisheries-related activities. Funding for operating, management and development costs in the fishery harbours is ring-fenced in the Fishery Harbour Centres Fund, which is the only source of revenue available for that purpose.

Capital investment in the Fishery Harbour Centres in recent years has underpinned both fisheries activities and their expanding use for leisure and marine tourism and other maritime enterprises. The House will appreciate that, in the current economic climate, the State must be fully committed to maximising the return on that investment. Moreover, my Department is required to ensure that the Fishery Harbour Centres are run on a financially-sound basis. The 500+ parking spaces within the boundaries of the Harbour would assist in balancing the books, and in providing funding for re-investment that would not otherwise be available.

A wide range of groups use the parking facilities of Howth Fishery Harbour – harbour business customers, yacht club members, sport fishermen, Dart users, tourists, walkers and many others. This combination of uses and the range of users of the Harbour brings its own inherent dangers and safety must be a paramount consideration. A consequence of the large volume of cars using the Fishery Harbour Centre has been huge pressure on parking, and that pressure has on a number of occasions led to a situation where emergency access to the Harbour area has been seriously compromised. The Harbour authorities have in the past received specific complaints from elements of the emergency services in that regard - fortunately no serious incident has arisen yet.

There was widespread public consultation when pay parking at Howth Fishery Harbour Centre was originally examined in detail in 2007 in conjunction with Fingal County Council. All of the various views that were expressed and submissions that were made then are still available and I am well aware of and acknowledge their concerns. I have been getting new correspondence on this matter from a wide range of harbour users. My officials have consulted with officials of Fingal Council, and with An Gárda Síochána about this and related matters, and my Department’s engineers have met some of the Harbour’s business tenants individually about new traffic management and road markings etc. My officials also attended the Harbour Users Forum in February where pay parking was on the agenda and heard the views of the harbour users at first hand.

I am examining all aspects of the matter at present. I can assure the House that the views of the various harbour users, the potential earnings, the possible impact on the harbour businesses that the Deputy has mentioned and on recreational users, the impact on the local economy and local jobs, and the impact on overall traffic management within the Fishery Harbour, are all matters that I will take into account in coming to a decision. I can also assure the House and all of the Harbour users in Howth that I am committed to continuing investment in and development of Howth for the future.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

Questions (58)

Dara Calleary

Question:

58. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applicants for the single payment scheme last year who had penalties imposed on them; the number who had 100% penalties imposed and the total number of applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29348/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

All applications under the Single Payment Scheme are subject to administrative check, in addition to which a percentage are also subject to field inspection. The basis of both these checks is laid down in the governing EU Regulations. The administrative checks and systems validations confirm compliance with a variety of requirements, including confirming that the application was received on time, that the land declared by the applicant was not also claimed by another Scheme applicant, that the necessary minimum stocking density levels have been achieved, etc. Failure to respect one or more of these Scheme requirements must result in a penalty be applied.

The annual round of field inspections covers both the eligibility of the land declared to draw down payments and also cross compliance aspects, to ensure compliance with EU regulatory requirements in the areas of public, animal and plant health, environment and animal welfare. These inspections are mandatory and there are certain minimum numbers and types of inspections that must take place annually. Land eligibility inspection (either on-farm or by remote sensing) must be carried out on at least 5% of applicants. These checks are carried out to verify that the actual area claimed in the application form corresponds to the area farmed by the farmer and to ensure that any ineligible land or features are not included for aid purposes. In order to be eligible to draw down EU funding, it is a requirement that all land eligibility inspections must take place before any payments can issue to any farmer in the country in a given year.

Some 123,363 cases paid have been paid to date delivering over €1.2bn to farmers in respect of the 2012 Single payment Scheme. Of these, 4,004 applicants incurred penalties on their payments, as follows:

Nature of penalty

Number of cases

Over-claim penalty

1,365

Late penalty

468

Cross compliance penalty

2,053

Late penalty & Cross compliance penalty

15

Over-claim penalty & Cross compliance penalty

93

Over-claim penalty & Late penalty

10

Total

4,004

In addition, a total of 334 applicants incurred penalties resulting in no payment being made, as follows:

Nature of penalty

Number of cases

Over-claim penalty

266

Late penalty

54

Cross compliance penalty

12

Over-claim penalty and Late penalty

1

Over-claim penalty & Cross Compliance penalty

1

Total

334

Food Harvest 2020 Strategy

Questions (59)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

59. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied that the growth in agricultural, fisheries and forestry output allowed for in Food Harvest 2020 is wholly compatible with the sectoral adjustment plans envisaged by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill; if he intends to permit a full strategic environmental assessment of Food Harvest 2020 in view of the likely greenhouse gas mitigation efforts which will be needed within this sector over the coming decade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29218/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Heads of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill provide for the preparation of a national low carbon roadmap which will develop the vision for a low carbon economy and outline the policy measures to be adopted for emissions reductions and for enabling the State to adapt to the effects of climate change. As part of this process, roadmaps are to be developed for a number of sectors, including agriculture. My Department has commenced work on the development of a sectoral roadmap for agriculture, and has had discussions with Teagasc with regard to the provision of research and advice to inform this work.

The roadmap for agriculture will take into account the targets in the industry’s Food Harvest 2020 strategy as well as the existing mitigation commitments. However, it is important that the roadmap will also outline a longer term view and will seek to balance the objectives of allowing the food industry to grow so as to meet the food security challenges that face the world; as well as the need to meet future climate change ambition. Irish agriculture has already achieved significant progress in production efficiency including the use of fertiliser and manure, grassland management, improved breeding and better fertility. The level of emissions from agriculture has been steadily decreasing in recent years and my Department will continue to work with state and industry stakeholders so as seek even greater future efficiencies in a sustainable Irish agriculture sector.

The Food Harvest High Level Implementation Committee decided that an independent environmental analysis of Food Harvest 2020 should be carried out on various scenarios by which the industry targets in the strategy might be achieved. This work commenced in April 2012, and the draft report is currently being prepared for an eight week public consultation which will commence in the coming weeks. In consultation with the Environment Directorate General of the European Commission, the process has closely followed what would be required for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and for an Appropriate Assessment (AA) in so far as the impacts of the possible scenarios are measurable at such a high level or on a national basis.

The analysis has examined the following critical environmental factors : biodiversity, flora and fauna, water quality including drinking water, soil, air quality, landscape and buildings, and climatic factors including greenhouse gas emissions. On its completion, following the period of public consultation, the report will be very valuable in informing development of the agriculture sectoral roadmap. It will also provide important guidance to the HLIC and to all actors in the agriculture sector in relation to future plans for implementation of the high-level targets in Food Harvest 2020.

Fodder Crisis

Questions (60)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

60. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the total expenditure incurred by his Department on the fodder transport scheme and the emergency assistance issued by the District Veterinary Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29343/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

No payments have been made as yet under the Transport Fodder Scheme as participating Co-ops, Marts, etc. are in the process of assembling their documentation for submission to my Department. With regard to the levels of Emergency Assistance that has been provided to farmers, some €170,000 has been paid to approx. 475 farmers.