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18 March 2015

Question Time: Agriculture and Rural Development - Monday 16 March 2015



The Agriculture Minister, Mrs O'Neill began question time by giving an update on the revenue generated through the wind farm development programme. The Minister stated "the Forest Service is actively investigating the opportunities to exploit the forest estate for wind energy development. A wind energy development manager, seconded from the Strategic Investment Board, is progressing work on defining the wind farm programme and developing the necessary business case.

So far, we have confirmed that there is an opportunity to develop this area at a strategic level, and a strategic outline case to support this work was approved in November 2014. The next stages of investigation will inform the basis on which my Department can anticipate revenues to be generated as the programme progresses. Clearly, revenues will be dependent on the first sites becoming operational, and we hope to see significant progress on that over the next number of years".

The Minister was also asked questions on Brucellosis-free Status and the MARA Project during Oral Question Time.

During Topical Questions, the Minister confirmed to the House that the proposed decentralisation of her Departments move to Ballykelly is on target and she is delighted with the progress being made. The Minister was also asked about Horse Racing Funds, the Young Farmers' Scheme and whether the she has been able to deal with and resolve the apparent CAP reform and land regulations disparity and discrimination faced by potato growers.