Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Climate Change Adaptation Plans
516. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has made calculations of the land that is not under grass that might be available for conversion to tillage or agroforestry without the loss of soil carbon. [37602/19]
My Department is committed to mobilising the LULUCF credits as outlined in the All-of-Government Action Plan for Climate Change. These credits provide a means to assist the agricultural sector to contribute to Ireland's ambition on climate action. This flexibility should not be seen as an offsetting proposal but rather, as an effort to broaden the “toolbox” of abatement options available to achieve targets, in particular for Ireland where existing abatement measures are costly and action in the LULUCF sector, that encourages removals and limits emissions, presents a more cost effective option.
Mobilising these credits will require the combined efforts of forest, cropland and grassland management. The Teagasc MACC outlines the specific types of actions explored to date and this does not presently include agro forestry options or cropping options on ‘new’ agricultural areas. The forestry analysis carried out in support of the MACC was based on trees planted at conventional stocking i.e. lands converted to 100% forestry.
Agroforestry is defined as widely spaced trees on grassland or cropland and my Department provides funding for agroforestry under the afforestation scheme as one of a suite of options but take up by landowners has been limited to date.
517. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he will take in relation to the new advice from Teagasc that under no circumstances should peaty soils be drained; the way in which the information will be conveyed to farmers; and the measures that will be put in place to ensure that this advice is heeded. [37603/19]
The Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) should not be interpreted as new advice but rather as a suite of measures that require careful consideration as to how the targets of the All-of-Government Climate Action Plan can be achieved. Like all suggested measures, my Department will engage with farmers as to how to implement and understand best management practice. In this respect, the Climate Action Plan sets out a target of at least 40,000 ha of reduced management intensity of grasslands on drained organic soils to 2030.This will contribute 4.4 Mt CO2eq cumulative abatement of the overall target of 26.8 Mt CO2eq abatement through Land Use, Land Use Change and forestry actions over the period 2021 to 2030.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the current EIA (Agriculture) Regulations require that land drainage activities above certain thresholds, must go through a process of application for screening or approval of the works proposed. Similarly, if the drainage works does not exceed the size thresholds but is identified as ‘requiring consent’ or is a ‘notifiable action’ in a European site (e.g. SAC or SPA), or an NHA, screening by my Department may also be necessary under these regulations.