Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (451)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

451. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if lands belonging to farmers in which the OPW construct temporary roads to transport rock for flood prevention works on river banks will continue to meet the land eligibility requirements for basic payment and area of natural constraints scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49870/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is required to implement rules regarding land eligibility and cross compliance for the Basic Payment Scheme and other area-based schemes, as prescribed in the governing EU regulations.

Roadway construction may impact on farmers’ basic payments either by a change in the area of land being farmed or in breach of cross-compliance requirements.

If the land area eligible for payment is reduced, e.g. by laying down hardcore for a roadway and/or fencing off any area to facilitate the roadway, it may reduce the eligible area. However, where the reduction in the area is short term and temporary in nature e.g. an area temporarily fenced off for a short period to facilitate the OPW works, this will not impact on the eligible area. If, however, the reduction in area is permanent, then the eligible area of the parcel/s will be reduced. Accordingly, this may impact the payment under the Basic Payment Scheme depending on whether the number of eligible hectares is reduced below the number of entitlements available to the farmer. In such a situation, a farmer may acquire additional land to replace the area lost as a result the roadway construction.

There could also be an impact on the basic payment where an inspection determines a breach under the cross-compliance requirements. Where the land involved is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protected Area (SPA), the roadway may cause a breach of Activities Requiring Consent/Notifiable Actions under Statutory Management Requirements 2 or 3. In order to avoid this situation, the farmer must have prior written permission from NPWS to allow the work. Such permission must include details of the land parcels affected. In this case, permission provided by NPWS to the OPW to cover the works and indicating the land parcels affected is adequate.

A reduction in the eligible area may also impact on other area-based payment schemes operated by the Department, for example, the Area of Natural Constraints, Greening, Young Farmer Scheme, GLAS, and BDGP.