Dáil Éireann - Volume 490 - 07 May, 1998
Written Answers. - Special Areas of Conservation.
Mr. Hogan Mr. Hogan
27. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the position regarding compensation during 1998 being paid to farmers in relation to their lands being designated  as special areas of conservation; the method of calculating these payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10809/98]
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera) Síle de Valera
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): Compensation can be obtained in one of two alternative ways, as follows: Those with land in special areas of conservation — SACs — special protection areas — SPAs — proposed natural heritage areas — NHAs — and commonages can join the rural environment protection scheme — REPS — administered by the Department of Agriculture and Food, under which generous payments are available. My colleague, Deputy Walsh, Minister for Agriculture and Food, recently announced an amended REPS scheme under which such land will qualify for payments of £80 per acre up to 100 acres, £8 per acre from 101 to 200 acres, and £6 per acre from 201 to 300 acres. Questions regarding the administration of the REPS scheme, including when the increased payments will begin, should be directed to the Minister for Agriculture and Food.
Those who do not wish to join REPS can apply to my Department for compensation in respect of actual losses resulting from SAC/SPA restrictions. The amount payable will be individually calculated in each case based on the actual losses arising. Where agreement is not reached on the amount payable, independent arbitration will be available.
Conditions for the conservation of SACs and SPAs will be specified in an agri-environmental plan for each holding, which will be arranged by my Department. Compensation will be payable from the date that restrictions, which result in income loss, are imposed. My Department's scheme is now in place, and where restrictions have been placed on a farmer, negotiations can take place on the amount of compensation payable.
Dáil Éireann 490 Written Answers. Special Areas of Conservation.