New land reclamation and drainage scheme overdue – Martin Kenny TD
Speaking in Leinster House today, Sinn Féin spokesman on agriculture, Martin Kenny TD said he was disappointed at the spirit of the response he received to a parliamentary question to the minister about making grant aid available for drainage of marginal land.
Deputy Kenny said:
“The point of my question was that there is a fodder crisis looming and it might go some way in the future to avert shortages if farmers on marginal land could be given some assistance for drainage to improve grass production and management. It has been over 30 years since there was a proper land reclamation and drainage grant available to farmers and the impact of this is being felt now.
“The minister has responded that although there is a measure for the clearance of drains under TAMS II included in the Programme for Government, that it would probably not be approved by the European Commission as a full national Strategic Environment Assessment and Appropriate Assessment would have to be carried out for any potentially affected Natura Areas.
“To be honest, I am surprised at this. I cannot imagine why there would be a need to carry out such assessments on land which is already being used as farmland or meadowland for the production of fodder. There is no logical reason why a drainage scheme cannot be designed to alleviate the problems of farmers in a way that does not have any negative impact on the environment.
“To look at a problem and instead of trying to solve it, coming up with obstacles to a solution, is hardly the job of a department of agriculture working for farmers facing a fodder crisis.”
Full text of question and response:
QUESTION NO: 379
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed)
by Deputy Martin Kenny
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 02/11/2016
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he will consider making a grant available to persons on marginal land for a drainage scheme to improve grass production and management which would help prevent a fodder crisis in the future.
The possibility of including a measure on clearing drains in the farm safety scheme under TAMS II is included in the Programme for Partnership Government. Any such measure would require full compliance with environmental requirements including the need for a full national Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessments for any potentially affected Natura Areas. European Commission approval would therefore be a significant challenge. A number of key challenges therefore arise and consideration of these issues is ongoing. A scheme for land drainage is not included in the current Rural Development Programme.