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Coveney launches guidance document that supports Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced the publication of a Guidance Document supporting the recently introduced Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations (SI No. 456/2011).  This Guidance is aimed at providing farmers with practical information and assistance on the application of the newly introduced screening and consent system in regard to certain types of farm developments including, restructuring of land holdings, improvements to uncultivated or semi-natural areas and land drainage.

The Minister stated that "the Regulations recently introduced by both the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and myself were introduced to avoid the probability of substantial fines arising from a European Court of Justice ruling that Ireland had failed to adequately implement certain aspects of the EIA directive.  This Guidance Document will help farmers to better understand the requirements of the Regulations".

The Guidance Document is being published following a period of public consultation and engagement. The Guidance Document was also subject to agreement with the European Commission and together with the Regulations now in place will form a significant part of Ireland’s defence of the case before the Court.

While the Guidance Document deals with all elements of the Regulations, the Minister singled out one topic that was raised frequently during the consultation period, the definition of 'wetlands' as opposed to what are 'wet type lands'.  The Minister stated that "this issue was raised by many people and was of significant concern.  I believe that this Guidance Document will give clarity to all on what areas are considered to constitute wetlands and which remain under the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the planning system implemented by the Local Authorities and the significant areas of wet marginal lands, and where the responsibility for control will rest with my own Department".

Minister Coveney also outlined that the system of conducting assessments was up and running and that 19 number of applications for screening had been received to-date.  The Minister said "the application process has been kept as simple and straight forward as possible and does not have any associated application charges.  My Department is also committed to conducting assessments in the shortest timeframe possible".  The Minister added that the transfer of responsibility for controlling the relevant activities from the planning system to his Department was to ensure an accessible and understandable system was put in place for farmers and the publication today of this Guidance Document is aimed at supporting this objective.

The Guidance document has been uploaded to the Department's website today.  The document will also be made widely available through Department offices early in 2012.


Click here for further information from the Department's website

Date Released: 22 December 2011