Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

PQ No. 96 – 25th February – Commonage Inspections

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason commonage landowners are not being notified in advance of inspections of their commonages by his Department and are not presented with a control report to sign; and if he will make a statement on the matter – Seán Kyne.

Reply: The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney

In accordance with the provisions of Articles 20, 29 (3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 and Article 28 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1122/2009, Member States are required to carry out administrative checks on all applications for aid. Essentially all applications for aid under EU funded Direct Payment Schemes must be subjected to these administrative checks to ensure their accuracy and validity. The Direct Payment Schemes involved include the Single Payment Scheme, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Grassland Sheep Scheme, REPS and AEOS.

In accordance with the provisions of Article 28 of Regulation 1122/2009, the administrative checks must include cross-checks, using computerised means, to verify the eligibility of the land parcels declared for aid including the area declared for payment purposes. In Ireland, the computerised database used for this purpose is known as the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS). Member States also have obligations to protect EU funds when making payments under EU funded or partially funded Schemes. In that regard, there is an obligation to ensure that the LPIS database is as accurate as is possible. My Department is constantly updating the LPIS database. The updating is done using a combination of all of the following options:
–   Land parcel maps submitted by farmers, which identify areas or features to be excluded.
–   Findings of eligibility inspections including ground and remote-sensing inspections.
–   Review of ortho-imagery to exclude ineligible area, which were identified on the imagery. This updating exercise would also include ground verification visits to verify the initial findings based on the ortho-image and also to confirm whether there is a farming activity carried out on the parcel or parcels.

The inspections in the case of the commonages referred to come under the third option and are not ground eligibility checks carried out in accordance with Articles 30, 31 and 32 of Regulation (EU) No 1122/2009 under which a control report is prepared.