Deputy Martin Kenny
Speaking in Leinster House yesterday, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Deputy Martin Kenny said he was disappointed at the spirit of the response he received to a parliamentary question seeking grant aid for drainage of marginal land.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer, 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 meadow land for the production of fodder."
Deputy Kenny said there is no logical reason why a drainage scheme cannot be designed to alleviate the problems of farmers and he said this could be done in a way that avoids 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," he said in conclusion.