Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (1021)

Marian Harkin


1021. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the plans in place and the timeframe for same to reimburse Leitrim County Council for the cost of a report being undertaken to investigate the causes of the recent landslide on Shass Mountain, Drumkeerin, County Leitrim; if he will examine the next immediate steps necessary to deal with this catastrophic event; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26985/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

This is a matter in the first instance for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. 

In response to this event, a Multi-Agency Group was established under the chairmanship of the Minister for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.  Membership of this Multi-Agency Group includes, inter alia, members of Leitrim County Council, local representatives of Leitrim County Council, Oireachtas, Farm Bodies, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Inland Fisheries, Department of Transport, and academia (Universities).  My Department is also represented on this group.

Leitrim County Council has engaged specialist consultants to undertake a comprehensive examination on the cause of the landslide and the impact it has had on the natural and built environment, ecology, water quality and the farming community.  A smaller steering group was established to provide oversight for this study and my Department is also represented on this group.  The consultants report will be submitted to the Multi-Agency Group once the examination has concluded.

Affected farmers have been reassured that their scheme payments for 2020 are covered by the existing force majeure regulations in place. The terms and conditions for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme include provision for force majeure in such cases.   A number of farmers in the area have already been in contact with my Department in this regard.  Officials in my Department have undertaken preliminary mapping of the farming and forestry related impacts on the bog slide.

Where any farmer is concerned that this event might have an impact on their scheme payments, s/he should contact the Department to inform them of the circumstances of their own case and to provide any evidence of the impact on their own landholding (for example by providing Geotagged Photos).  Farmers can write to the Direct Payments Unit, Government Offices, Abbeyleix Road, Portlaoise or telephone 076 106 4420.  This will ensure that the Department is aware of cases which may be impacted and all such cases will be examined individually.