Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 12 October, 2000

Written Answers. - Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

115. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development when supportive documentation on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will be considered in support of his REPS application; his views on whether it was fair to totally disallow the REPS payment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the local Department supervisor approved the application; and if he will now pay the outstanding REPS payment. [21870/00]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Following an inspection on the farm of the REPS applicant named in December 1998, penalties amounting to 110% were imposed by my Department as a result of [176] the removal of a hedgerow and failure to maintain hedgerows as specified in the applicant's agri-environmental plan. As the penalty amounted to 100% or more, the scheme conditions at the time required that the applicant's participation in REPS be terminated and that he refund all payments received.

The applicant appealed the penalties to the Department's local office and, when this was unsuccessful, lodged an appeal with the REPS appeals committee. The appeals committee reviewed the case in August 1999. In reaching its decision, the appeals committee noted all the circumstances of the case and decided to uphold the original decision. The appropriate penalty is specified in the scheme conditions and the appeals committee has no discretion to alter same.

Additional documentation has been supplied in support of the applicant's case since the appeals committee's decision of August 1999. This documentation does not contain any new or additional information which might warrant a further review of the matter.