Thursday, 1 February 2018

Ceisteanna (355)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

355. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the cost of restoring the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS, farm plan scheme to the scale that operated in funding and participation levels before adjustments were made to its operation in 2010; the number of persons who participated in the NPWS farm plan scheme in each of the years 2010 to 2017; the funding allocated and expended on the programme in each of the years 2010 to 2017, in tabular form [5170/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department has operated a farm plan scheme since 2006. Over 650 farm plans were approved under this voluntary scheme. Farmers have been incentivised to go above and beyond their statutory requirements in designated lands for particular habitats or species. One of the primary aims of the scheme is to trial bespoke measures for enhanced management of biodiversity at farm level, with a view to informing current and future measures under the Rural Development Programme.

The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme was entirely exchequer-funded. At its peak, the costs of the scheme were circa €5 million per annum. The scheme was scaled back in 2010 due to budgetary constraints arising from the financial crisis. Some of the measures previously supported in the NPWS farm plan scheme are now provided for under GLAS, the national agri-environmental scheme. It is appropriate and sensible in my view to use EU funding, via the RDP, insofar as possible, to fund measures required under the EU Nature Directives.

The number of farmers that participated in the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme and the funding allocated and expended on the programme in each of the years 2010 to 2017 are outlined in the following table. Some payments relating to actions undertaken in 2017 will be made in 2018 for administrative reasons.

Year

Number of contracts

Budgetary allocation

Actual expenditure

2010

546

€5.10m

€3.75

2011

667

€5.38m

€4.4m

2012

616

€5.14m

€3.96m

2013

415

€4.44m

€3.45m

2014

361

€3.14m

€2.67m

2015

176

€1.74m

€1.3m

2016

53

€1.00m

€0.44m

2017

45

€0.56m

€0.41m