Gildernew sets £100 million challenge for farmers and builders
Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has called for farmers and the building industry to work in partnership to ensure the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme (FNMS) is delivered.
Farmers have until 31st December this year to complete works under DARD's Farm Nutrient Management Scheme which provides grant funding towards the cost of installing a slurry tank.
Calling for increased efforts to meet the EU deadline the minister said:
"Since I came into office I have prioritised the FNMS, with some 4,000 grant approvals now issued to farmers. However £100million worth of construction work on slurry tanks still has to be done and the big challenge now is to urgently get the work started to meet the EU's deadline of 31 December 2008.
"I am determined that as many as farmers as possible can benefit from the FNMS grant and it is only through working together that we can meet the EU deadline in the limited time left. I also wish to thank both the UFU and NIAPA for their strong support for our efforts to get as many farmers as possible through the scheme before the end of December."
Ciarán Fox, (CEF), added: "This anticipated investment is very welcome at a time when the construction industry is experiencing a slowdown in work. The industry has plenty of spare capacity but we need those farmers who already have grant approvals to engage contractors immediately if we are going to deliver over 2,000 slurry tanks by the end of the year. Realistically we only have six months so there is no time to wait."
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), in conjunction with the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) and the Quarry Products Association NI (QPANI), is running a seminar next week to tell local contractors and suppliers how to get involved in delivering this work.
Gordon Best, QPANI, speaking on behalf of the concrete and precast sectors, said:
"The supply industry is ready to step-up output. Concrete slurry tanks must be designed to meet strict standards and must be certified by an engineer. This work can only take place in a scheduled manner. The farming community needs to act now to make sure they don't miss this great opportunity."
To help farmers get work started Construction Employers Federation and Quarry Products Association will be putting a list on their websites of firms who can provide slurry tanks.
Notes to editors
- The DARD/CEF/QPA Seminar "Give Tanks for £100m" is being run for companies that are interested in finding out more about providing slurry tanks. It is being hosted by the CEF at 143 Malone Road, Belfast, at 2pm on 18 June 2008. Bookings for the event can be made by contacting CEF at 9087 7143.
- The FNMS provides capital grant support to farmers for investment in slurry and manure storage facilities. It is the key support measure to help farmers comply with the EU Nitrates Directive. EU State Aid approval for the FNMS requires that works are completed and claims submitted by 31 December 2008.
- 4,891 applications were received to the scheme when it closed on 31 March 2006. Currently 4400 applications are being progressed and some 4,000 approvals to commence work have issued.1,354 claims for payment have been received, of which 1,105 have been paid amounting to £33.3million.
- The Construction Employers Federation is the only certified employers' organisation for the construction contracting industry based in the North of Ireland. It has a membership of approximately 1,300 companies of all sizes and across all sectors of the construction industry from civil engineering to general construction, house building and maintenance and repair companies. Federation member companies account for just over 72% of the North's total construction output. CEF headquarters are on the Malone Road, Belfast. Contact 9087 7143. Website http://www.cefni.co.uk
- The Quarry Products Association is the trade association representing the aggregates industry. In the North their members produce over 90% of aggregates extracted - sand and gravel and crushed rock as well as non aggregate minerals such as agricultural and industrial lime including limestone, clay and shale for cement. QPANI is based at Nutts Corner Business Park. Contact 9082 4078 Website http://www.qpani.org