Dáil Éireann - Volume 522 - 29 June, 2000

Written Answers. - Agriculture Schemes.

100. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the steps he has taken to put maximum pressure on the EU Commission to ensure the early introduction of the farm waste management scheme and installation aid; and if he will allow the farmers who are ready to proceed with investment permission to do so, particularly if they need to rectify pollution difficulties on their farm. [18876/00]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, provision has been made for a scheme of farm waste management and a scheme of installation aid for young farmers. A significant level of funding amounting to some £211 million has been allocated for these measures. The measures are a component of the regional operational programmes for the Border, midland and western region and the southern and eastern regions. Clearance to proceed requires the approval of the European Commission. The broad clearance procedure is already well under way, as negotiations with the European Commission on the Community Support Framework for Ireland, necessary to draw down the EU element of the funds, have recently been com[1187] pleted. In addition, the requisite operational programmes have been finalised and submitted to the commission. The further negotiation process in respect of the regional operational programmes will follow and there is a formal EU Commission procedure for the approval of operational programmes. The procedure is complex and involves the provision of a considerable amount of documentation and detail. As it is likely to continue over a number of months, it is not possible to indicate at this stage, when this proposed scheme will commence. I will be doing all I can to ensure that approval is forthcoming in the shortest possible time. In any event, while the EU Commission procedure is in train, work on preparing the operational parameters of the schemes is proceeding. It is intended that the practical aspects of the design of the schemes will be completed so as to coincide with the issue of approval by the commission, which will enable the prompt roll out and commencement of implementation of the proposed schemes. In the meantime, the national schemes for the control of farm pollution and installation aid for young farmers currently in place will continue in operation and are open to applications. Farmers approved under the national scheme for the control of farm pollution will continue with construction works and receive grant payments as the works are completed. Until the European Commission issues its approval and sanction in respect of the proposed new scheme of investment aid for farm waste management, the scheme has no formal status and, accordingly, works could not be approved by my Department.