Tuesday 15 October 2013

Commonage Restrictions in the Twelve Bens/ Maamturks

Commonage Framework Plans

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person in County Galway who is participating in the Twelve Bins/Maam Turk Complex can amend their agri-environment option scheme plan to allow them to put their sheep back on the hill due to the fact that the Twelve Bins/Maam Turk Complex scheme is not being renewed after November; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I am aware that the Twelve Bins/Maam Turk Complex Scheme, which the National Parks and Wildlife Service put in place for the purpose of regenerating these commonages, expires on 1st November, 2013. The future management of these commonage lands will now be considered in the wider context of the ongoing examination of issues relating to all Commonages. This process will involve the farmers directly managing the lands, relevant stakeholders, the farming organisations and all other interested stakeholders. The aim is to achieve a practical solution which will ensure that the farmers actively farming these lands are protected and that the land is maintained or returned to GAEC and that the requirements of the governing EU regulations are met.

There is nothing new in the Ministers reply to Deputy O Cuiv, this has been the standard line for almost a year now. However there is still no sign of any sort of an implementation plan and the mechanisms to attain the goal of keeping commonages in GAEC are still very unclear. The min/ max figures which the Department believed would deliver a solution are at best only a starting point for an implementation plan for each individual commonage. The other aspects of an implementation plan have never been published, without them the Departments commonage management plans are in disarray.

We can only hope that the draft Rural Development Plan which is expected before the end of the year will shed some light on the Department of Agriculture's intentions.

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