Shareholders to vote on move at the end of the month.
Sligo News File
Lakeland and LacPatrick dairies are about to merge, according to BBC Northern Ireland.
It’s reported that the move is being backed by the boards of both co-operatives with the proposal now set to be placed before shareholders for a vote at the end of
A final decision will be subject to regulatory approval.
The proposed new co-operative would trade under the name Lakeland Dairies.
Billion euro turnover
If approved, the merger, says the broadcaster, would make the operation Ireland’s second largest dairy co-operative, with a supplier base of more than 3,000 dairy farmers, and a combined annual turnover of over €1 billion.
According to a report by Shannonside FM News, former president of the ICMSA Pat O’Rourke has meanwhile stated that he believes the proposed merger makes perfect sense. O’Rourke, says the report, also believes that it’s only a matter of time before Aurivo and Lakeland will merge.
A government-ordered review of the role of local councillors is scheduled to be published within weeks.
There is speculation that the review will recommend more increases in the remuneration of local authority members. A Minister has said that the study “will devise a system of linking councillors’ pay directly to a Civil Service grade and bring all the ancillary benefits that such a change would entail.”
Currently, elected members receive a vast range of payments for serving the community. There’s a representational allowance of nearly €17,000 per year; extra monies for chairing and attendance at municipal district meetings, a vouched expenses allowance up to €5,000 annually, travel and subsistence expenses, expenses for rent, rates and utilities for offices, including home offices, and allocations for secretarial services, carers and child care.
Those retiring receive a ‘golden handshake’ of up to €60,000, depending on years of service.
The work of a councillor is only part-time, most members are in full-time occupations as farmers, solicitors, auctioneers, estate agents, publicans, retailers, teachers and the like. However, the government seems to believe all local elected members should now again be rewarded with even more payments.
It should be said that the work once undertaken by local councillors has been significantly diminished with the transfer of functions to other bodies, most notably water and sewers to Irish Water.
The outrageous tax that the government has slapped on the homes of all householders, the aged and the sick, is used to fund the activities of local councils. To ensure no-one escapes it, collection of the levy has been assigned to the Revenue Commissioners.
Sligo will have to compete for any greenway funding allocated under the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways.
The Minister for Transport said the strategy does not propose funding specific greenways, including the Sligo development which local TD Tony McLoughlin asked to be prioritised for “the benefit of the area.”
The TD was told that the plan, setting out the criteria for applications, will to be published within the next month.
Following the launch, there will be a call for applications later in 2018 to award funding to a number of projects for drawn down between 2019 to 2021.
The Minister said that in the light of the increased interest in greenways in recent years, he expected that “there will be a strong response to this funding call.
“I would urge potential applicants for funding to progress their planning and design of greenways as far as possible in advance of any application for funding and to resolve any land ownership issues,” he added.
‘Existing rules have led to rural decline and depopulation.’
Sligo News File.
A Sinn Fein TD is seeking to change provisions the 1997 Water Pollution Act to enable planning permission to be granted for single houses that fail to meet current statutory requirements.
Martin Kenny states that, for the last six years, there has been an ongoing problem securing approval in some rural areas where heavy soil conditions rule out the use of septic tank systems
Introducing a private members’ Bill to amend the existing regulations, the Leitrim Deputy said problems being encountered “flow from strict new Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, guidelines, which were adopted by the Government and lodged with the EU, as part of measures to prevent groundwater pollution from septic tanks.”
The strict regulation on rural planning “has led to rural decline and depopulation in some parts, mainly in County Leitrim and other areas with heavier soil,” he said.
He went on to say: “The EPA guidelines state that if the percolation test fails, there must be zero discharge of effluent. Zero discharge is impossible, and this rule has effectively imposed a ban on building in many rural areas.”
“This element of the EPA guidelines rule out all reasonable engineering solutions or proposals to treat and dispose of the sewage effluent where the T-test fails, regardless of how high the treatment standard,” he said.
Present rules restrict discharge licences to multiple developments.
“The EPA guidelines also state that where the test fails, the local authority can issue a wastewater discharge licence. However, the interpretation of the legislation at present around discharge licences is that they should be used for multiple houses or industrial settings, as in a small housing estate.
“In fact, the regulations refer to the discharge of over five cu. m of effluent per day, which is approximately the volume produced by six houses. This interpretation of discharge licences being only for multiple dwellings is effectively copper-fastening the ban on rural planning, even with the use of the most environmentally sound sewage treatment solutions.
“I am proposing an amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 to change this and clearly accommodate the granting of wastewater discharge licences for single houses in rural areas where the T-test fails.”
Kenny said that he had consulted with the EPA, planning and environmental personnel in local authorities and private practice on the appropriateness of discharge licences for single houses where percolation tests fail, “and all agreed it is a workable solution to the problem.
“The licence can be designed specifically for single houses where the conditions of the licence could include the installation of a mechanical sewage treatment system, from which effluent would pass through a polishing filter and be discharged into a reed bed and willow pond.
“This type of treatment method had been used extensively on sites with poorer soil conditions prior to the coming into effect of the new EPA guidelines. They work extremely well, with the final treated discharge water meeting the highest environmental standard.
“The cost of installing such a treatment system with a wastewater discharge licence would be well under €20,000, but may require a small licence fee.”
Leitrim disadvantaged by current measures.
He said situations had arisen in the past where people had opposed single houses in rural areas because many were built too close together. However, he maintained that the excess in one area should not be used to excuse a famine in another place, “which is what we see in many areas of rural County Leitrim.
“In some parishes, we cannot build houses, which means that no new young families can live in them. It is a devastating situation for those areas.”
Concern that ‘too much subtle pressure being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high calibre cow or heifer.’
Sligo News File.
ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chairman Hugh Farrell has called on the Department to allow valuers to do their job when it comes to the live valuation system for TB reactors.
“When it comes to breeding stock, or animals with show potential, there has to be flexibility in the system to allow valuers to give an honest and true assessment of what an animal is worth. In these cases, average price ranges from thousands of animals sold in marts each week is meaningless.
“ICSA is concerned that too much subtle pressure is being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high calibre cow or heifer. As it stands, the odds are stacked against a farmer who has TB reactors. While the farmer can appeal the valuation, so too can the Department. The panel is selected by the Department in the first case, but we hear stories of valuers being afraid that they will be removed from the panel if they are deemed too favourable to farmers.
“While everybody accepts that valuations should be accurate, it is manifestly the case that some animals, particularly breeding animals, can be worth several hundred euros in excess of the typical price. Penny pinching over this is a pointless exercise in the context of the overall budget because we are only talking about a very small minority of animals. However, where a farmer has spent years breeding livestock and has invested in having the best of stock, it is very upsetting and frustrating to see the Department second guessing experienced valuers. Moreover, the sense that valuers are looking over their shoulders all the time is out there and this is not acceptable.
“Unless there is a strong body of evidence that a valuer is continuously getting it wrong, the Department should accept that at times, there will be stock that are much more valuable than any paper exercise in average values.
“We also need to ensure that compensation for reactors adequately reflects the impact of the loss of the cow. In cases, the cow will be a reactor before the calf is ready for weaning and at the same time, the calf will not be saleable. This will result in a loss of value in the calf which needs to be reflected in the price paid for the cow.”