Gildernew outlines progress on Nitrates Scheme
Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has confirmed that significant progress has been made in undertaking inspections and issuing approvals under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme (FNMS).
FNMS pre-approval inspections enable offers of grant to be approved under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme.
Outlining progress the Minister stated:
"To date some 3,600 applicants to FNMS have had a pre-approval inspection and 2,700 approvals to commence work have issued. This is a major step forward since last June when I got commitment on budget for the scheme.
"I am concerned that many farmers, who have had their pre approval inspection, are hesitant in seeking addition information and clearances required. They are not getting that information back to the Department so that their scheme approvals can be issued. In addition, I am aware that a number who have had approvals for some time have not acted on them. I understand the market uncertainty that farmers face and, for this and a variety of reasons, my expectation is that a number of farmers may not invest.
"However, there is still an opportunity for those who wish to invest this year under the scheme. We are on course to complete all pre approval inspections in April. I ask any applicants who have decided they will not invest to tell the Department so that we can devote our effort to those who do wish to build storage.
"It is vital that farmers who have received approval proceed to build their tanks as quickly as possible if they are going to avail of a FNMS grant. My Department's target of issuing all approvals by the spring gave a clear indication to the construction industry of the urgency in getting works completed by the end of this year. The Department has put a major effort into the scheme in recent months and I am keen that this is productive." ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The Farm Nutrient Management Scheme (FNMS) is a key measure to improve water quality here and provides financial assistance to farmers towards the cost for additional storage of farm manure.
- The Nitrates Directive Action Programme Regulations require livestock farms to have a minimum of 22 weeks slurry storage capacity. Pig and poultry farms require 26 weeks storage capacity. Many farms require significant investment to meet this requirement.
- After protected and difficult negotiations with the EU Commission, State Aid approval was secured to extend the scheme deadline for completion of works/submission of claims by two years to 31 December 2008.
- The Department has received 1,089 claims for payment of which 820 have been paid, amounting to £24.02million. All claims for payment have to be processed by 31 December 2009.