State urged to seek EU aid for ash dieback

The Government has been urged to avail of supports on offer from Europe to tackle the ongoing ash dieback crisis.

At the end of last year the Department of Agriculture confirmed that 22 cases of the disease had been identified in 10 counties and that it was to begin a “major eradication programme” in which the department would supervise the destruction and re-establishment of affected sites.

It said a re-establishment grant would be made available to the owners of private plantations which are part of the department’s current afforestation programme, and that ash plants from the infected batches supplied to other sites will also be destroyed.

Yesterday Fianna Fáil MEP Liam Aylward said that, on the back of questions he had put to the European Commission on the measures it had in place to stem the disease and help affected states, he had received a detailed reply from the European commissioner.

The commission says it is considering with other member states “whether sufficient scientific and technical information is available to conclude that eradication, or at least containment, is realistic in Ireland and the United Kingdom. If this is the case, the commission may propose to adopt appropriate measures,” it said.

It also said under the EU plant health regime, “there is a basis for co-financing eradication campaigns by the competent authorities under very strict conditions”.

“Moreover, member states may grant state aid for the eradication and treating of tree diseases and for the loss of stock and for restocking costs if the stock was destroyed on the order of the authorities. Furthermore, de-minimise aid of up to €200,000 per enterprise over any period of three fiscal years may be granted. Such aid may also be granted in relation to the processing of ash trees.”

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