Under the current Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry some £100 million was made available for the control of farmyard pollution. Due to the high level of demand relative to the funding provided it was necessary to suspend the acceptance of new applications on 27 April 1995. In the context of the mid-term review of the Structural Funds in which the European Commission was involved, additional funding of £20 million was made available to the scheme in July 1997. A further £9.5 million was allocated from Exchequer funds in the 1997 Supplementary Estimate. Therefore, considerable funding has been made available for this measure under the current programme and a large number of farmers have availed of the scheme. Additionally, the capital allowance for necessary pollution control works was increased from £20,000 to £30,000 in this year's Finance Bill.
There are no funds available at present under the Structural Funds programme to facilitate the reintroduction of the control of farmyard pollution scheme. I am monitoring the situation and in the event that additional funds become available as a result of decommitments on projects in the Community Support Framework, I will press that the scheme is given priority in the disbursement of such funds. There are currently no plans to provide Exchequer finance for a new scheme.