Thursday, 29 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
33. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when second instalments will be paid to farmers who are already included in the REP scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4702/96]
35. Mr. Foley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if the number of planning agencies who having submitted faulty REP scheme plans will, under new regulations, be required to submit all plans drawn up by them for re-examination; and the number of farmers affected in each case. [4687/96]
40. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason for the changes recently announced in the payment structure for the REP scheme; if he will ensure that the changes will not result in a reduction in the funding of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4696/96]
49. Dr. Moffatt asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the amount of money allocated for the REP scheme in 1996; the amount that accounts for the 75 per cent of the EU allocation and the 25 per cent Exchequer allocation respectively. [4689/96]
50. Mr. Flood asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the range of penalties up to and including withdrawal of recognition by the Department of REP scheme planners who submit plans that do not withstand inspection. [4685/96]
The current allocation for REPS in 1996 is £41.56 million of which 75 per cent is recouped from the EU FEOGA fund. As I indicated in reply to a question today I am keeping the funding of REPS under close review with a view to ensuring that sufficient funds are available to meet the expected demand.
Under monitoring and control procedures carried out by my Department a random sample of REPS plans submitted in the latter half of 1995 were selected for checking. This resulted in over 200 cases being checked in detail and subjected to on-farm inspection. A further 200 approximately are currently being checked in this way but the results are not yet available.
To date nearly 100 defective plans, prepared by 20 of the 241 approved planning agencies, have been detected. Because the random selection did not target every agency, the checking is now being further extended to cover all agencies.
Following the recently announced changes in control procedures, planning agencies who have prepared plans which are found not to be in accordance with the scheme are being required to re-examine and amend those plans as a  matter of urgency. Additionally all other plans prepared by those agencies must be re-examined and certified as being in accordance with the scheme or changed to meet the scheme requirements. Furthermore, my Department will carry out increased levels of checking on all plans in the future to ensure strict compliance with the scheme.
As also announced, plans which indicate a deliberate attempt to bypass the scheme requirements are being rejected. Any planning agency which in the future prepares a new plan not strictly in compliance with the Department's specifications may be removed from the approved list of planning agencies. Where genuine errors occur, a warning will be issued to the agency concerned with an instruction to have them corrected. If errors occur as a result of planning agencies' negligence they risk being removed from the approved list. Each case will be looked at individually.
As part of the improved controls, the up front payment is now being split in two, with 50 per cent being paid on approval and the balance on a six monthly basis thereafter. These changes  will not result in a reduction of the overall funding for the scheme. The attractiveness of the scheme to farmers remains.
The revised procedures also require the planning agencies to certify that applicants' plans comply with the scheme before any second year payment is approved. As a result, no second year payments have been made to date but it is expected that these will commence in the near future.
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