Food Safety Standards Inspections

Questions (1385)

Peter Burke

Question:

1385. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 973 of 26 March 2019, the status of a case (details supplied); if follow-up actions need to be taken by the applicant or his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35050/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Officials from the Veterinary Public Health Inspection Service of my Department carried out a follow up inspection at the pig-meat processing plant in question on August 1st 2019.

The purpose of the inspection included updating DAFM Management on on-going developments at the processing plant and also to facilitate further discussion on Third Country Market Access.

During the inspection, a number of outstanding issues were identified and plant management were notified that these issues would need to be addressed in order to achieve an acceptable standard for compliance with EU Regulations and for access to Third Country markets.

The Food Business Operator indicated their commitment to improved compliance and agreed to furnish my officials with plans for the required upgrades and developments relating to a number of areas within the plant.

Deer Culls

Questions (1386)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1386. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to deal with the increasing population of the deer herd here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35058/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Over the last decade, available evidence suggests that the geographic distribution of all species of deer has increased, but neither the precise distribution nor the population density of these species is currently known. Deer appear to be a localised issue in many areas. In this context, there is a significant challenge in attempting to balance the demands of agriculture, forestry and conservation with the need to ensure that deer populations occupying the same land resources are managed at sustainable levels, and in a responsible and ethical manner. It is critical that landowners take ownership over this issue and organise properly to implement deer management measures on their lands in the correct and sustainable manner.

In 2015, my Department, together with the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, published Deer Management in Ireland – A Framework for Action, which recommends a series of actions on deer management and conservation in a number of areas, including addressing the impact of deer in places where they are abundant. The Irish Deer Management Forum was established to implement the various actions listed in the Report. The Forum itself comprises representatives from the main stakeholder areas such as landowners, forestry, hunting and conservation organisations, as well as representatives from both Departments. The Report provides for a review of the workings of the Irish Deer Management Forum after three years. Both my Department and the Department of Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht are currently examining the future direction of the Forum and its aims in the context of representation on the Forum, agreed work plans and funding mechanisms.

Adoption of best practice is fully supported by both Departments and the majority of deer management stakeholders. Best practice guidance, adapted to Irish Conditions was published by the Irish Deer management Forum during 2018 and can be accessed via http://idmf.ie/best-practice-guides/.

A number of initiatives have been carried out in Co. Wicklow with a view to defining locally-led approaches to cooperative deer management. My Department is currently supporting a project led by the Wicklow Deer Management Partnership and Wicklow Uplands Forum, aimed at improving cooperation between landowners and local hunters. This project builds on previous experience in Wicklow through projects such as the Ballinastoe Deer Management Project, the Calary Deer Steering Group and the Calary/North –East Wicklow Deer TB survey. These projects provide a good example for other local groups to follow, in areas affected by deer related issues.

The Manor Kilbride Deer Management Group in West Wicklow has also produced very useful and practical code of practice for landowners, to guide successful deer management implementation on farmland, and to formalise agreements between landowners and hunters.

Teagasc, the Wicklow Deer Management Project and a number of other stakeholders have agreed to examine methodologies for to measure the impact of deer in agriculture, and to improve awareness of deer issues and mitigation options among farmers.

My Department introduced a Deer Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme to protect forests from predation by deer in 2018 as deer can cause serious damage to trees, particularly in native woodlands. Additionally, my Department has also engaged with the Society of Irish Foresters, Teagasc and Third Level Institutes in the delivery of deer management training to professional Foresters and Contractors through a series of seminars and field training events. This work is ongoing.

Deer Hunter Licensing and Competence are matters for the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht and the representative bodies, clubs and associations for licensed hunters within the State.

Departmental Funding

Questions (1387)

Peter Burke

Question:

1387. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount his Department and associated agencies have allocated in assistance payments and grant funding to counties Longford and Westmeath since 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35141/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

These figures include direct payments to farmers under various schemes as well as grant funding to local authorities and other organisations on a range of measures. Please note that the bulk of payments are made late in each year, which is why the figure for 2019 appears low when compared to previous years.

As regards the twelve State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, the information requested is an operational matter for the State Bodies themselves. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy’s question to the Agencies and requested that a response should issue within 10 days.

Assistance Payments/Grant Funding

Longford€

Westmeath€

2016

33,568,844

51,482,802

2017

34,323,589

52,106,473

2018

36,297,261

53,750,850

2019

38,640

316,972

Harbours and Piers Development

Questions (1388)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1388. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a pier (details supplied) in County Kerry will be extended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35201/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute. In addition, my Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the ex-Congested Districts Board.

The responsibility for the development, and maintenance of Local Authority owned piers, harbours and slipways rests with each Local Authority in the first instance and their parent Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government thereafter. In the case of Renard Point, Kerry County Council is the relevant local authority.

As part of its annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, my Department has provided limited funding to assist coastal Local Authorities in carrying out small scale projects for the development and repair of piers, harbours and slipways in their ownership.

Between 2011 and 2018, €1.6million in funding has been granted under the programme to Kerry County Council, including €221,000 in funding for development works and repairs to Renard Point over the same period.

I have approved funding of €2.2m for the Local Authority element of my Departments 2019 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme. Kerry County Council has secured €127,500 of funding for two projects under this year’s programme.

No application was received under this year’s programme in relation to Renard Point. Should any application be submitted by Kerry County Council in relation to Renard Point under any future programme, it will be given due consideration, taking into account the terms and conditions of the scheme, the priority attached by the Local Authority and available exchequer funds.

Animal Slaughtering Data

Questions (1389)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

1389. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of cattle slaughtered in each individual factory that fell outside the parameters, weight and age for the quality assurance bonus during the first and second weeks (details supplied) of the protests held by farmers outside meat plants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35303/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department collects data on slaughterings at approved slaughtering plants in accordance with the relevant price reporting regulations which are reported in aggregated format on the Department's website. The parameters for in-spec or QPS bonuses are derived from commercial agreements, which my Department has no role in developing or administering, and, therefore, this data is not monitored by my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (1390)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1390. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by his Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by his Department over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35333/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department has spent €359,052 on the renewal of Lotus notes licences during the period 2009 to date in 2019. Based on current usage, the amount projected to be paid by the Department for the next 5 years is expected to be in the order of €243,000. These figures are inclusive of VAT.

Teagasc Courses

Questions (1391)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1391. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35364/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The issue raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Teagasc who are responsible for the delivery and operation of the Green Cert course.

Accordingly, the question has been forwarded to Teagasc who have been requested to respond directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Agencies Reports

Questions (1392)

Alan Kelly

Question:

1392. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide a full copy of a report (details supplied). [35390/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The release of the report referred to by the Deputy is a matter for Bord na gCon, and the request has been passed to them for their direct reply.

Agriculture Schemes

Questions (1393)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1393. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding is still available for the weather crop-related loss scheme; the number of applications made to date; the number of applications that have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35436/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The 2017 Weather Related Crop Loss Support Measure was introduced in response to the period of protracted wet weather in September 2016. The measure provided financial assistance to farmers in approved cases as a contribution towards the direct losses arising from damage to certain eligible crops. The closing date for the scheme was 25 August 2017.

A total of 167 applications for support were received in the Department. To date payments totalling €406,878.30 have issued to 90 applicants.

Aquaculture Licences

Questions (1394)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1394. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding a licensing process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35471/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

All applications for aquaculture licences are considered by my Department in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and (in the case of marine aquaculture) the 1933 Foreshore Act. The assessment process takes full account of all National and EU legislative requirements and reflects the full scientific, environmental, legal, public policy and engineering aspects of each application. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation which has now concluded for Kilmakilloge Harbour.

The report referred to by the Deputy remains in draft format and is not included in the documents currently under consideration as part of the aquaculture licence applications process for Kilmakilloge Harbour. As the licence applications are currently under active consideration by my Department as part of a statutory process, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

Agriculture Scheme Appeals

Questions (1395)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1395. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a review by a director of an agriculture appeals decision in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35473/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Agriculture Appeals Office operates independently of my Department.

I have been advised by the Agriculture Appeals Office that a request was received on behalf of the person named for a review of the Appeals Officer's decision regarding his appeal.

Following a comprehensive review of the case, a letter issued to the person named on 23 August 2019 advising of the outcome.

GLAS Expenditure

Questions (1396)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1396. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the target payment under GLAS will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35528/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Agri-environment policy is included in the CAP reform negotiations currently under way and any future schemes will be dependent on the outcome of these negotiations.

GLAS Payments

Questions (1397)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1397. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the GLAS scheme will be reopened to all farmers; if payments will issue to all farmers in a calendar year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35533/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) opened in three tranches commencing in 2015. The scheme is fully subscribed with GLAS 3 participants in their third year of participation in the five-year GLAS scheme and the overall RDP budget on track to be fully spent. There are no further tranches of the scheme planned.

All GLAS payment claims must pass a suite of checks before advance payments can issue and balancing payments can only commence when all regulatory controls, including inspections, have been met. 99% of 2018 scheme year advance payments have issued and less than 3% of balancing payments remain to be processed.

The GLAS Advance payments in respect of the 2019 scheme year cannot commence until after 15 October 2019.

TAMS Eligibility

Questions (1398)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1398. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if additional items (details supplied) will be included for grant aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35538/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The TAMS II Scheme has been very successful in terms of uptake with the number of approvals that have issued to date exceeding 22,100. All of these approvals represent committed expenditure under the TAMS II measure of the Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020. Until such time as these approvals are acted upon or expire, the budget for TAMS must include provision for the potential expenditure involved. Current estimates indicate that the total budget of €395m available under TAMS II for the suite of seven measures covering a wide range of investments will be fully spent.

There are no plans, therefore, to introduce the additional investment items proposed at this time.

Forestry Grants

Questions (1399)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1399. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding payment for ecosystem services (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35543/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020 was completed in February 2018 and, as part of this review, higher grant and premiums rates were introduced for broadleaf planting types. This has resulted in an increase in broadleaf planting from 21% of total planting in 2017 to 27% in 2018. Furthermore, the minimum mandatory requirement for broadleaf planting per afforestation site was increased from 10% to 15%

A number of other measures to increase biodiversity were also introduced as part of the Mid-Term Review as follows:

Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) Scheme: This redirects plantations away from the 'normal' clear fell / reforestation model and into continuous cover forestry. Therefore, as trees are felled singly or in small groups (typically with smaller machinery) and the gaps left are planted up or fill in with natural regeneration, the overall canopy cover is left intact, protecting the soil and the woodland ecosystem. This is compared to the clearfell system where all the trees are felled in one go, with lots of machinery, potential impact on the site and the complete change in habitat from forest to open. So, the CCF Scheme is encouraging a more environmentally- (incl. biodiversity) sustainable way to manage forests for wood production, based on the ongoing realisation of small quantities of valuable stems, versus on big windfall at the end of the rotation. (However, CCF doesn't suit all sites or all investment / financial models.)

Woodland Improvement Scheme - 2nd Thinning: This scheme is focused on undertaking a silviculturally-appropriate 2nd thinning to improve the quality and value of retained trees (by removing poorer quality stems and redirecting growth onto better quality ones). However, it also has a biodiversity benefit as it opens up the canopy and allows increased levels of light infiltration onto the forest floor, encouraging ground vegetation and the scrub understory. This increases the habitat biodiversity, leading to more insects, birds, etc.

Deer Fencing Scheme: This scheme will protect the forest crop from damage from excessive browsing, including shoot damage and stem damage / bark stripping. In parallel, it will also exclude excessive grazing of other components of the woodland ecosystem, especially the ground vegetation and scrub layer, both of which can be badly denuded if deer numbers are very high. In addition excluding deer will allow the natural regeneration of trees and scrubs, as seed falling onto the site can germinate and become established, which increases the woodland biodiversity generally.

Host a Hive initiative: Native woodlands provide a rich source of pollen and nectar for the honey bee both from the trees themselves and from the wide array of woodland flowers in the ground flora and shrub layer. As a contribution towards the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, my Department have contacted woodland owners involved with the National Woodlands Scheme (NWS) and asked if they would be interested in hosting a bee hive in their native woodland. To this end, they have been invited to contact the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations (FIBKA) and the Irish Beekeepers’ Association clg (IBA clg) through their local branches. This association could allow members of these organisations to establish hives within new native woodlands planted under NWS. This initiative is also supported by the Native Irish Honeybee Society (NIHBS), which promotes the conservation and re-introduction of the native Irish honey bee throughout Ireland.

Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF): The WEF initiative provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners and get behind the national effort to plant an additional 5 million native trees between now and 2020. Under WEF, businesses can be associated with individual native woodlands and use the environmental benefits linked to these forests to demonstrate that they are meeting their corporate social responsibilities. The WEF ties in with the Department's existing afforestation scheme which covers 100% of the cost of establishing native woodlands and also pays an annual premium to the landowner of up to €680 per hectare payable each year for 15 years (€16,000/ha). The WEF involves an additional once off top up payment of €1,000 per hectare paid by the business to the landowner.

Forestry Grants

Questions (1400)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1400. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if new schemes (details supplied) will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35544/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The existing Reconstitution Scheme (Chalara Ash Dieback) is currently on hold pending a review. I expect to be announcing details of a revised scheme in the very near future.

As part of the midterm review of the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020, completed in February 2018, two new measures were introduced under the Woodland Improvement Scheme which are open to ash plantations. These measures include support for continuous cover forestry and a grant for carrying out a second thinning.

Forestry Grants

Questions (1401)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1401. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an investment grant will be introduced (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35546/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020 was completed in February 2018.

The review did not include the introduction of grants to support the purchase of specialised harvesting and processing equipment for small scale private forests for the remainder of the current forestry programme and I have no plans to introduce such grants at this time.

Forest Roads Scheme

Questions (1402)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1402. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding additional funding to local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35549/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Primary responsibility for improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads rests with Local Authorities. State grants, mainly originating from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, are provided to supplement contributions by local authorities from their own resources. Therefore, the funding of public roads is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

My Department does provide funding for the installation of central tyre inflation systems on timber lorries. The aim of this measure is to help reduce the risk of damage to roads and also wear and tear on the lorries themselves.

My Department is working closely with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with regard to an amendment to the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2018, providing for this Department to be the sole consenting authority for forest roads, where a new entrance onto a public road is to be opened or there is material widening of an existing entrance. Currently, in such situations, planning permission is required from the local authority. The required legislation, making my Department the consenting authority, will be in place within a matter of weeks.

It is worth noting that local authorities still retain sole responsibility for granting permission to entrances from forest roads opening onto national roads and that they will be consulted on applications involving non-national public roads received by my Department.

Basic Payment Scheme Appeals

Questions (1403)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1403. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a BPS payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35552/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The closing date for the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme was 15th May 2019. As with previous years, the closing date was widely advertised to ensure that all applicants were aware of the deadline.

In cases where a herd number is awaited, a facility is in place to enable farmers to make their BPS application in advance of the herd number being issued. A number of supports are in place for farmers who wish to make such applications. For example, the Department's BPS phone helpdesk is available to farmers with these types of queries as they are making their applications. In addition, my Department also provided BPS application clinics around the country in the run up to the BPS application deadlines. At these clinics, farmers were provided with one-to-one assistance by a member of my Department's staff in submitting their applications. This service included Department officials assisting applicants in submitting applications while awaiting herd numbers. A similar drop-in service was available to farmers in my Department's Portlaoise office all through the application period. Finally, it is also open to all applicants to engage the services of an agricultural advisor should they wish to seek assistance in making such an application.

The 2019 Basic Payment Application in respect of the person named was received on 12 July 2019. Applications received after 15 May can be accepted on the basis of a sliding scale of penalties for each day after the 15 May that an application is received. In this case, the 12 July submission date resulted in a 100% late penalty.

The person named has appealed this penalty to my Department. This appeal has not been upheld on the basis that the information provided did not meet the Force Majeure or Exceptional Circumstances criteria laid down in EU legislation.

A letter recently issued to the person named setting out the position and outlined his right of further appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Questions (1404)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1404. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training of same to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35568/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has a dedicated Data Protection Unit in place since November 2015, which has been, inter alia, promoting Data Protection (DP) and GDPR awareness since its inception. This Unit has been actively informing staff of their obligations under the various Data Protection legislations using a judicious mix of internal resources (such as, eLearning tools, seminars and targeted sectorial Data Protection talks) and external companies.

My Department’s Learning and Development Unit has procured courses in Data Protection since 2016. Two companies have provided general Data Protection training to staff, via a tender process, Irish Computer Society & All One Corporate Solutions. This training is on-going and has been in place since 2016.

The breakdown of the various Data Protection external companies utilised by the Department (including related DP conferences) and their associated costs are outlined as follows.

2016

2017

2018

2019

CMG Training & Events

€424

€730

€1,671

IPA

€810

All One Corporate Solutions

€400

€13,750

€8,700

Law Society of Ireland

€1,400

€95

Irish Computer Society

€4,600

€12,650

SOAS University of London

€5,814

Happening Conference & Events Ltd

€1,425

IAAP

€2,000

Irish Academy of Computer Training

€880

PDP Training/Conferences

* €35,920

€2,735

Public Affairs Ireland

€2,200

€13,048

€51,220

€22,356

€9,580

* 47 staff attending Data Protection Conference

Aquaculture Licence Administration

Questions (1405, 1406)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1405. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 2083 and 2084 of 23 July 2019, if his attention has been drawn to concern and anger that exists among the community concerned regarding the way in which the statutory public consultation process with respect to the application was conducted; if he is satisfied that all legal obligations required of applicants of such applications were carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35599/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1406. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 2083 and 2084 of 23 July 2019, the name of the publications in which the public notice element, which is a legal requirement to be undertaken by applicants of such applications, was printed; the dates on which they appeared in each; if the notice appeared in Irish in view of the fact that the area in question is located within the Gaeltacht; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35600/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1405 and 1406 together.

My Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable national and EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.

In accordance with applicable legislation, notice of the applications in Ballyness Bay were published by the applicants in the Donegal Democrat on various dates between 14th of March and the 26th of March. From the publication date of the relevant Notice, the public had four weeks to make written submissions or observations to my Department on the applications specified in that Notice. During that time, the application documentation was available for inspection in the Garda Stations specified in the Public Notices and on the Department’s website.

The legislative requirements governing Aquaculture Licensing are adhered to fully by my Department.

In addition, the legislation governing aquaculture licensing provides for an appeals mechanism. Appeals against licence decisions are a matter for the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) which is an independent statutory body. Full details of the appeals process can be obtained at: http://www.alab.ie/appealsprocess/.

As these applications are currently under consideration by my Department as part of a statutory process, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the specific applications at this time.

Forestry Grants

Questions (1407)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1407. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to make grants available to persons to replant land on which trees have been felled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35603/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department provides generous grants and premiums for the establishment of new forests under the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020. The full cost of establishment is covered and 15 annual premium payments are made to the landowner. Total payments under the afforestation scheme for a native woodland forest, for example, can amount to over €16,000 per hectare.

The proceeds of a landowner's timber asset at clearfell more than covers the cost of reforestation. According to the Department's "Felling Decision Support Tool", the value of a crop of Sitka spruce, yield class 20, felled at year 43 and thinned on three occasions is over €30,000 per hectare whereas replanting costs are considerably lower than this. In any case, the clearfell proceeds are tax-free for the landowner which is part of national forestry policy, part of which is intended to cover the cost of reforestation.

Harbours and Piers Development

Questions (1408)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1408. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to renovate a harbour (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35623/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute. In addition, my Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the ex-Congested Districts Board.

The responsibility for the development, and maintenance of Local Authority owned piers, harbours and slipways rests with each Local Authority in the first instance and their parent Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government thereafter. In the case of Fenit Harbour, Kerry County Council is the relevant local authority.

As part of its annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, my Department has provided limited funding to assist coastal Local Authorities in carrying out small scale projects for the development and repair of piers, harbours and slipways in their ownership.

Between 2011 and 2018, €1.6 million in funding has been granted under the programme to Kerry County Council, including €247,500 in funding for development works and repairs at Fenit Harbour over the same period.

I approved funding of €2.2m for the Local Authority element of my Departments 2019 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme. Kerry County Council has secured €127,500 of funding for two projects under this year’s programme.

A key element in the determination of the projects to be funded is the priority placed on them by the Council, and while an application was received in relation to proposed structural repairs to the fishery storage area and the installation of a bollard to the head of the pier at Fenit, the two approved projects received a higher prioritisation by the Council.

Should any application be submitted by Kerry County Council in relation to Fenit Harbour under any future programme, it will be given due consideration, taking into account the terms and conditions of the scheme, the priority attached by the Local Authority and available exchequer funds.

Departmental Customer Charters

Questions (1409)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1409. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of complaints his Department received under the customer service charter in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to issues and or problems in having complaints registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35636/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The data requested by the Deputy is set out in the table that follows.

Year

Number of customer service complaints received by my Department’s Quality Service Unit

2017

43

2018

30

2019 (to-date)

10

The data set out in the table relates to complaints received by the Quality Service Unit of my Department as part of my Department’s Customer Service Complaints Procedure. It is important to note that this Customer Service Complaints Procedure concerns complaints regarding customer service, it does not cover requests for reviews or appeals against actual decisions taken in the operation of a scheme or service, as these have a separate appeals process.

My Department is committed to providing a user-friendly, high quality service to all farmers. Where it is considered that my Department falls short of this, my Department’s Customer Service Complaints Procedure can be availed of by farmers. There are three steps in the customer service complaints process:

1. Complaints should first be directed to the senior officer in charge of the business area within the Department to which the complaint pertains.

2. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the response received from the Head of the relevant business area, the complaint can be sent to the Quality Service Unit who will examine any customer service aspect of the complaint. The Quality Service Unit will have the matter fully and impartially investigated by an officer who was not involved in the matter giving rise to the complaint.

3. If the complainant remains dissatisfied after steps 1 and 2 above, it is open to the complainant to contact the Office of the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman examines complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated.

These procedures and relevant contact details are set out on our website and are also available in printed form if requested.