TB Eradication Scheme

Questions (1178)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1178. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) has not received funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19317/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Herdowners are required to provide their tax details via form TC10A for payments in excess of €650 so that tax compliance can be confirmed. This position was communicated to Mr O'Sullivan and he was informed that his compensation claim could not be processed without this documentation.

The Department received the completed TC10A on April 26th and payment has now issued.

Horse Racing Ireland

Questions (1179)

Clare Daly

Question:

1179. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the most recent contract for the collection of the foal levy was put up for tender by Horse Racing Ireland. [19329/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

The question raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and I have requested my officials to refer the question to them for direct reply.

Horse Racing Ireland

Questions (1180)

Clare Daly

Question:

1180. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a company (details supplied) was given an €80,000 lump sum by Horse Racing Ireland when the contract was being renewed plus €24,000 in administration costs; and if so, the reason therefore. [19330/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

The question raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and I have requested my officials to refer the question to them for direct reply.

Horse Racing Ireland

Questions (1181)

Clare Daly

Question:

1181. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason Horse Racing Ireland does not collect the foal level and contracts the job out (details supplied). [19331/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

The question raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and I have requested my officials to refer the question to them for direct reply.

Horse Racing Ireland

Questions (1182)

Clare Daly

Question:

1182. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a 1% foal levy at the point of sale to replace the current system. [19332/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

HRI's Foal Levy Committee reviews the rates, bands and structures of the levy on an annual basis and has also considered potential alternative methodologies to calculate the levy due. They have concluded that the current banded/tiered approach represents the most equitable and appropriate way of securing the vital funds needed for the breeding sector. I understand that the majority of foals registered fall into the two lower bands of €35 and €50, and that there is a very high compliance rate of circa 98.3%.

The levy generates vital funding for the Irish Equine Centre, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association. These organisations rely on the levy funding in order to provide their services.

As such, I have no plans to alter the current arrangements for the levy.

National Cattle Herd Data

Questions (1183)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

1183. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of herd numbers registered here; the number of herd numbers registered solely to a female, male, female-only partnerships, male-only partnerships and mixed partnerships in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19383/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated and will be forwarded to him at the earliest opportunity.

Fish Farming

Questions (1184)

Clare Daly

Question:

1184. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the results of the competent authority acting on his behalf in respect of matters (details supplied); if harvesting was accelerated; if so, the reason therefore; and his views on same. [19386/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Marine Institute is the Competent Authority in respect of the monitoring activity referred to by the Deputy. During the period in question, my Department’s records do not indicate any negative results on the relevant sites in relation to Benthic Monitoring, Residue Monitoring or Water Framework Monitoring.

Under EU Directive 2006/88/EC, operators of fish farms are obliged to report the presence or suspicion of the presence of OIE-listed diseases to the Competent Authority. No diseases listed in EU Directive 2006/88/EC were recorded in Ireland in 2018 or to date in 2019.

In addition, a voluntary arrangement is in place for operators of marine salmon farms to report mortalities above defined levels (less than 1% in fish over 750g) to the Competent Authority. The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore exceeded trigger values for voluntary reporting of increased mortality for a 7-week period between August and September 2018. The reported causes of mortality were multifactorial, but were not attributable to reportable disease agents under EU Directive 2006/88/EC. No increased mortality has been reported since.

Furthermore, all marine salmon farms in Ireland are inspected on an annual basis by my Department’s veterinary inspectors acting on behalf of the Competent Authority for fish health purposes. The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore was inspected in June 2018 and no issues were noted during the inspection.

The Marine Institute has concluded that the measures taken by the operator referred to by the Deputy, which included expedited harvesting, have been effective in the control of sea lice infestation on farmed Atlantic salmon during the period referred to.

The control protocols for the management of sea lice operated by the Marine Institute on behalf of the State are more advanced than those operated in other jurisdictions for the following reasons:

- The inspection regime is totally independent of the industry

- Data obtained as a result of inspection is published and made widely available

- Treatment trigger levels are set at a low level.

The sea lice monitoring and control programme in Ireland has been acknowledged by the EU Commission as representing best practice.

Felling Licences Applications

Questions (1185)

John McGuinness

Question:

1185. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a felling and planting licence will be issued to a person (details supplied); if the matter will be expedited; and the reason for the delay to date. [19408/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application for both afforestation and tree felling licences were received on behalf of the person named in October, 2018 and forwarded to my Department’s Forestry District Inspector for his review.

All applications are carefully assessed for their impact on certain aspects of the proposed site including ecological features. This site is within the referral area for the Rivers Barrow and Nore SAC, which is designated for the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel. It is important therefore that the site is properly reviewed for its effect on the SAC.

A Natura Impact Statement was requested and supplied by the applicant and this must be carefully assessed by my Department’s Ecologist. This assessment will ensure that any possible implications for the pearl mussel are identified and characterised over the whole forest rotation, in consideration of the conservation objectives for the species.

Once the assessment by the Ecologist is complete, the applications will be returned to the District Inspector for their recommendations. These recommendations will form the basis of the decision which will be issued to the applicant and their Registered Forester, when available.

Fishing Industry

Questions (1186)

Clare Daly

Question:

1186. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to incidents occurring between Ireland's Eye and Lambay Island on 16 April 2019 which caused damage to lobster and crab pots. [19428/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

No reports have been received by my Department of lobster or crab pots being damaged on the date and at the location referred to by the Deputy. I understand from the Deputy that her question relates to her concern regarding a possible naval presence in the area. Questions regarding military matters should be directed to the Minister for Defence.

GLAS Eligibility

Questions (1187)

Joe Carey

Question:

1187. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position when a farmer enters into a GLAS contract on leased lands and during the GLAS contract period a new lease is issued by the landowner subsequent to which the farmer cannot fulfil their GLAS obligations for the overall length of the GLAS contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19537/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Actions undertaken for GLAS, whether on owned, leased or rented lands must be delivered for the entire period of the GLAS contract and this is clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions of the scheme.

Where a participant cannot fulfil their GLAS obligations due to an issue with a lease and the GLAS contract is terminated, all payments made under that contract must be reimbursed.

Haulage Industry

Questions (1188)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

1188. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position in relation to TASCC certification for the haulage sector in the event of Brexit; and if a new scheme will be put in place should Brexit occur (details supplied). [19585/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The role of my Department as the competent authority for official controls along the animal feed chain is to ensure the implementation and enforcement of EU and National feed legislation, including those requirements relating to hauliers and the transport of feed.

The Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC) is a voluntary scheme developed, owned and implemented by the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), which is UK-based. My Department therefore has no role in the operation of this Scheme.

The status of the Scheme in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and the certification of EU participants, is a matter that would have to be considered by the Confederation itself.

Fish Farming

Questions (1189)

Bríd Smith

Question:

1189. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the stocking, losses escapes, diseases, mortalities and harvested fish by number of fish and weight at a farm (details supplied) in 2018 and to date in 2019. [19629/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The production figures sought by the Deputy are not available as this information is deemed to be commercially sensitive. My Department’s Marine Engineering Division publishes it’s reports of inspections of finfish farms on my Department’s website www.agriculture.gov.ie, and the 2018 report, containing information on standing stock figures, will be available in the near future.

Under EU Directive 2006/88/EC, operators of fish farms are obliged to report the presence or suspicion of the presence of OIE-listed diseases to the Competent Authority. The Competent Authority in the case of fish health in Ireland is the Marine Institute. No diseases listed in EU Directive 2006/88/EC were recorded in Ireland in 2018 or to date in 2019. In addition, a voluntary arrangement is in place for operators of marine salmon farms to report mortalities above defined levels (less than 1% in fish over 750g) to the Competent Authority.

The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore exceeded trigger values for voluntary reporting of increased mortality for a 7-week period between August and September 2018. The reported causes of mortality were multifactorial, but were not attributable to reportable disease agents under EU Directive 2006/88/EC. No increased mortality has been reported since. Furthermore all marine salmon farms in Ireland are inspected on an annual basis by my Department’s veterinary inspectors acting on behalf of the Competent Authority for fish health purposes.

The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore was inspected in June 2018 and no issues were noted during the inspection.

My Department’s records do not indicate any reports of fish escapes from the salmon farm in question during the period referred to by the Deputy.

Farmers Charter

Questions (1190)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1190. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason the beef plan not been added to the farmers' charter review group covering CAP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19654/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A Farmers’ Charter Review Group was set up in 2014 with a view to agreeing a new Farmers’ Charter of Rights. The Review Group was originally chaired by an Assistant Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and comprised senior Department officials and representatives of farming organisations.

Following on from positive engagement by all parties, negotiations between my Department and farming organisations on a new Farmers’ Charter of Rights concluded on Thursday 11th June 2015 with consensus achieved on the Charter.

Subsequently, a Farmers' Charter of Rights Monitoring Committee was established to monitor agreed targets and standards. This Monitoring Committee comprises representatives of farming organisations, staff of the my Department and an independent chair.

My Department is satisfied that the Committee is meeting its objective with the current composition of the Committee.

Animal Identification Schemes

Questions (1191)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1191. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason the NBAS31B form has been removed from use by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19656/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The bovine traceability system is operated in accordance with EU regulatory requirements whereby all movements from holding to holding are recorded on my Department’s Animal Identification and Movement database (AIM). Herd keepers are required to obtain a Certificate of Compliance approving the movement of cattle from one holding to another holding prior to the movement taking place.

With effect from 1 June 2018, the option to apply for a Certificate of Compliance for animals moving to another holding for feeding purposes using the NBAS31B form was removed. The NBAS31B application was introduced many years ago solely to assist in the establishment of stocking density for premia payments. Accordingly the rationale for the NBAS31B form is no longer applicable.

All applications received from 12th June 2018 for the movement of animals to another holding for feeding purposes are being treated as an application for the movement of cattle to another holding.

The discontinuance of the use of the NBAS31B form has no impact on a keeper who wishes to move livestock to another holding for feeding purposes. An application for movement of animals to another holding for feeding purposes is now made by using the NBAS 31A form instead of the NBAS31B form.

The NBAS31A application process seeking a Certificate of Compliance for movement of cattle from a single holding to another holding can be requested by keepers either manually or by using the online facility.

Trade Agreements

Question No. 1193 answered with Question No. 1192.

Questions (1192, 1193)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1192. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of negotiations with the Chinese authorities over the past four months on the 12 CNCA licences that are currently appended to factories here (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19660/19]

View answer

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1193. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has received an approval date for the CNCA licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19678/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1192 and 1193 together.

My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy.

The opening of the Chinese market for Irish beef in 2018 was the culmination of significant work over a number of years and I am pleased that seven Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China.

Exports of Irish beef to China commenced during the summer of 2018. According to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €2.8 million (1,400 tonnes) to China in 2018. With regard to 2019, again according to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €1.9 million (695 tonnes) to China in the two month period January/February, which represents a very positive start to the year and I hope that this growth trend to continue throughout this year.

My officials continue to liaise with the appropriate Chinese officials on market access and plant approvals in order to increase Ireland's ability to supply the market. My Department is working on progressing all of the outstanding applications for approval to export beef to China. However, the timeline for these approvals remains a matter for the Chinese authorities.

I will lead a trade mission to China next week and I look forward to discussing progress on the outstanding beef plant applications at Government-to-Government meetings during the course of the trade mission.

Question No. 1193 answered with Question No. 1192.

GLAS Payments

Questions (1194)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

1194. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal under the GLAS 2 scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19857/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The applicant named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016 and has received all payments in respect of scheme years 2016 and 2017.

An issue arose in relation to a cross compliance penalty which has delayed the processing of the 2018 payment. The Department is working to resolve the issue and expects the payment to issue shortly. Once this case clears all the required validations, the 2018 advance payment will be made followed by the balancing payment. GLAS payments are continuing to issue on a weekly basis.

Brexit Staff

Questions (1195)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

1195. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the plans of the Forestry Service to recruit inspectors to deal with Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19950/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As part of the whole of Government response to Brexit, my Department continually reviews staffing levels in all areas of operation in light of our business needs. My Department works closely with our recruitment partners, the Public Appointments Service to address our on-going recruitment needs in all areas of the Department including the Forestry Service.

A recruitment campaign for Forest Inspectors is currently in place and new recruits have already joined the Department to carry out a number of functions in the Forest Service. In line with workforce planning processes and my Department's business needs, the requirement for forest inspectors will be continuously reviewed and further new recruits will be engaged as required.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (1196)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

1196. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to increase the number of staff in his Department in view of the significant waiting times being experienced by farmers applying for afforestation and tree felling licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19951/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is required to carefully assess all forestry licence applications to ensure that, among other things, environmental and landscape considerations are taken into account and that appropriate prescribed bodies are fully consulted.

The table below shows the number of hectares for which approval to afforest has been granted along with the hectares actually planted, for the last two full years and for 2019 to 30th April. The right hand column indicates the conversion rate, that is, the percentage of land that is actually planted following approval. In 2017 this was 55% and increasing to 58% in 2018. This means that my Department approved far more land than was actually planted.

Afforestation applications (ha)

Year

Area of ApplicationsReceived

Area Approved for Planting

Area Actually Planted

%ConversionRate

2017

11,483

9,980

5,538

55%

2018

8,612

7,005

4,036

57%

2019*

2,234

2,289

1,126

49%

* To 30th April 2019

Application Process and Public Consultation

The steps in processing an application include;

1. The submission of certain mandatory documents and acknowledging a complete application;

2. Public consultation and referral to prescribed bodies. This includes referral to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and local authorities;

3. Referral to the Forestry District Inspector, who reviews the application along with any submissions received;

4. Referral to Department Ecology or Archaeological services;

5. Further information requests, which may be Natura Impact Statements or flood reports - these may require waiting until certain times of the year for the report to be compiled;

6. Appropriate Assessment – every application is subject to these procedures, with regard to the potential impact the proposal may have on the site or surrounding environment.

Tree Felling Licence Applications

The commencement of the Forestry Act, 2014, in May 2017 saw a surge in applications for tree felling licences. This is due to a number of factors, which include;

1. A promotional campaign to remind those considering felling or uprooting trees that a tree felling licence may be required before felling takes place;

2. Tree felling licences are now valid for 10 years and a licence may be granted for a number of operations, e.g. thinning and clear fell, over the course of the validity of the licence, within the one site.

3. A significant area of the national estate both privately and publicly held, that was planted in the 1980s that is now coming to maturity and requires felling and replanting.

In terms of resources, my Department is constantly keeping this under review in order to try and meet demand. Obviously, the recruitment of new resources has to be done in a way which takes into account overall DAFM needs and competing priorities. In recent times for example, we have recruited two Grade III Archaeologists and trained to assess forestry licence applications. This has led to a significant decrease in the waiting times for approvals which require an archaeological referral. My Department is committed to the preservation of archaeological artefacts found within or near forestry sites. Archaeology staff liaise with the National Monuments Service and provide a high standard of guidance to their Forestry colleagues, on applications with archaeological concerns.

In relation to the Forestry Appeals Committee, the Forestry Act, 2014, was commenced in 2017 and the independent Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) was established. Applicants or third parties dissatisfied the any decision on or condition attached to a forestry licence may make an appeal to the FAC within 28 days from the date of decision is provided.

In 2018, 1,082 completed applications for afforestation licences were received and acknowledged. Decisions issued on 861 applications. A total of 5,969 tree felling licence applications were received in 2018, with 3,603 licences issued. It is important to note that the balance of cases are not necessarily awaiting further work as it is not unusual for completed applications to be received and acknowledged by my Department, but subsequently withdrawn by the applicant. Further, applications are received on a daily basis, therefore, applications received late in 2018 would be decided in 2019. The timeframes in which forestry licence applications are finalised and decisions issued are under constant review. In April this year, 95% of afforestation applications, not referred to outside bodies or internally, were issued a decision within 70 days from the date advertised. Forestry personnel make every effort to ensure that high-quality decisions are made within the timeframes outlined here.

Agriculture Scheme Penalties

Questions (1197)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

1197. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a TAMS 2 scheme penalty in the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20015/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named made an application under the Dairy Equipment Scheme 27 July 2015 and a payment claim was submitted on 16 December 2016.

This application was subject to an on-farm inspection. It is a requirement that payments claimed are verified as part of such an inspection. In this case an issue arose in relation to the receipt for the Milking Machine, resulting in penalties and reductions being applied to the payment in respect of the investments.

A review of this decision was requested and a written reply issued on 15 May 2018 upholding the original decision. An appeal was subsequently submitted to the Agriculture Appeals Office. The Appeals Office decision was to disallow the appeal.

Fish Landings

Questions (1198)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1198. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of landings at Renard Pier, County Kerry, in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20029/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The data requested is held by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and I have referred the Deputy's request to the SFPA for attention and direct reply.

Achomhairc Talmhaíochta

Questions (1199)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1199. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara cén uair a dhéanfar cinneadh ar achomharc atá déanta ar son feirmeoir i gContae na Gaillimhe (sonraí tugtha); cén fáth go bhfuil moill ar an gcinneadh ar an achomharc seo, ag cur i gcuntas na cúinsí force majeure atá i gceist leis; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [20086/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Fuarthas litir achomhairc ó TirGlas Teo thar ceann an duine ainmnithe. Níor chuir an duine ainmnithe iarratais ar aghaidh ar Scéim na hÍocaíochta Aonair (SPS) i leith na mblianta 2013 & 2014 ná iarratas ar Scéim na hÍocaíochta Bunúsaí (BPS) sa bhliain 2015 agus is leis sin a bhaineann an t-achomharc.

Mar a leagadh amach sa bhfreagra roimhe seo chuig an Teachta, tá an ceart íocaíocht a fháil faoin BPS ag brath ar bhlianta tagartha 2013, 2014 agus 2015. Dá bhrí sin ní mór aon chinneadh glacadh le hiarratais i leith na mblianta sin a bhreithniú go cúramach de bharr an méid ama atá caite, go háirithe cinneadh a dhéanamh an féidir teidlíochtaí BPS a leithroinnt freisin. Tá an cháipéisíocht a cuireadh ar aghaidh athbhreithnithe agus rinne oifigeach ó mo Roinn teagmháil leis an duine ainmnithe agus iarraidh eolas níos sonraithe. Cuireadh an t-eolas breise ar aghaidh le déanaí agus tá sé á athbhreithniú faoi láthair.

A luaithe a bheidh athbhreithniú iomlán ar an gcás tugtha chun críche, déanfaidh oifigeach ó mo Roinn teagmháil go díreach leis an duine ainmnithe.

Animal Welfare

Questions (1200)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

1200. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to strengthen the laws on animal welfare and to improve the powers of animal welfare groups to rescue animals that are being abused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20152/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Incidents of animal cruelty are totally unacceptable and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation. The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 has modernised the legal framework relating to the welfare of animals. Sections 11 and 12 of the Act 2013, which contain the main principles relating to the welfare of animals and cruelty to animals, provide that a person having an animal in his or her possession or control must safeguard and not threaten the health and welfare of the animal. In addition, it is an offence for a person to cause unnecessary suffering, endanger, neglect or be reckless regarding the health or welfare of any animal.

In order to ensure its effectiveness, the Act provides for increased levels of penalties for offences committed under the Act. For major cases taken on indictment, the maximum penalty has been increased from €100,000 to €250,000, with a maximum custodial sentence of five years imprisonment. Section 58 of the Act also provides that a person convicted of an offence under the Act may be disqualified from keeping, owning or working with an animal. These penalties are in keeping with Irish jurisprudence and I do not envisage changes.

There have been sixty nine successful prosecutions taken nationally since the Act was brought in. A further thirty five prosecution files are currently being processed. In terms of resources devoted to the enforcement of the Animal Health and Welfare Act, in addition to staff employed by my own Department and by the local authorities, a number of officers of certain NGO’s have been given Authorised Officer status under the Act and this has facilitated the more effective enforcement of the legislation. Under the Act, Department staff, members of An Garda Síochána and 13 officers of the DSPCA and ISPCA are authorised.

This work is further underpinned by the Animal Welfare Helpline which my Department operates, Lo-call 0761 064408, along with a dedicated email address, AnimalWelfare@agriculture.gov.ie , which facilitates the reporting by members of the public of concerns in regard to the welfare of animals. The animal welfare hotline exists for the reporting of specific incidents relating to animal welfare which come to the attention of members of the public, which they believe are in need of attention. All calls received are treated in confidence and all complaints received are investigated and followed up.

In view of the current systems in place and the onerous detailed regulatory nature of the duties involved, I consider the current arrangements in place are effective.

Felling Licences

Questions (1201)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1201. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the legislation in place to protect wildlife habitats and to cease tree felling during summer months; the circumstances in which licences for tree felling on private lands are approved, particularly from 1 May to 31 August 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20154/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is the competent authority for the granting of tree felling licences. A tree felling licence must be obtained before any felling or uprooting takes place. All applications for tree felling licences are carefully considered for their impact on the environment and habitats.

A tree felling licence may be granted with conditions and those conditions may refer to any habitats found on or near the site. The conditions may also preclude any felling during certain times of the year.

Legislation to protect wildlife habitats falls within the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.