65 penalties issued last year for the presence of ragwort on land
The Department of Agriculture applied some 65 penalties to farmers payments due to the presence of ragwort on their farms.
Farmers are obliged to keep their lands free from noxious weeds under the cross-compliance measures set down for farming practices.
Failure to do so can result in the application of a reduction of their payment entitlement.
While 2017 statistics are not currently available, during 2016, a total of 89 sanctions were undertaken which resulted in the application of 65 such penalties.
While the Noxious Weeds Act makes provision for taking prosecutions against offenders, this measure has not been resorted to in recent years.
The Department of Agriculture has said modern farming has reached a level of specialisation and intensification which makes weed control a fundamental and automatic practice.
However, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed also said that the prevalence of ragwort found along the margins of roadways and in locations such as derelict sites regrettably appears to have increased.
“My Department actively seeks to enforce the provisions of the 1936 Noxious Weeds Act by issuing “Notices to Destroy” in all instances where it becomes aware of the presence of noxious weeds.
“To date this year 21 such notices have been issued. This reflects a comparable level to that reported in 2016. These notices are issued as a result of inspections carried out by Department Field Officers or on receipt of reports made by the public. Follow-up action may be undertaken by Departmental officials with the landowner to ensure that the notifications are acted upon and that the particular weeds have been dealt with as stipulated in the Notice to Destroy.
The Minister also said his Department seeks to engage with all County Councils, Local Authorities and the National Roads Authority to ensure a consistent programme of treatment and disposal of such weeds on an ongoing basis.
“In this regard, my Department was in contact with each of the County and Local Authorities in the Country earlier this year emphasising their statutory obligation and the importance of implementing measures for the treatment and safe disposal of ragwort in order to eliminate and prevent the spread of same,” he said.
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