Questions Remain Over Inspection Of Waste Storage Tanks Under FNM Scheme
Speaking on the court judgement on the waste storage tanks under the Farm Nutrient Mgt Scheme, Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has said the judgement still leaves open the question of whether the millions of pounds of grants complied with regulations and whether system inspection and maintenance of waste storage units was done properly.
An Teachta Tóibín: “The Farm Nutrient Management Scheme in the north provided funding for the improvement of animal waste storage. The scheme cost over 200 million pounds and nearly 4,000 farmers used the scheme. Aontú has seen internal documents from the Department of Agriculture in the north, in particular an email which was sent by Minister Poots in March 2020 where he confirmed that a mere 700 on site interim inspections were conducted of the tanks in question, out of nearly 4,000 tanks installed. The email said ‘Leakage of tanks was deemed to be of low risk. It is not known how many tanks were tested for leaks.’. Today’s judgement ruled that criminality of ministers and civil servants had not been proven, but that questions remained as to the inspection of these tanks. Indeed, the judgement states that it is still open whether the limited inspections that did take place in fact complied with the regulations at the time.”
“If these tanks are leaking into our waterways and rivers, then there needs to be a serious investigation into this. Yet again, the incompetence of a number of SF and DUP Ministers of Agriculture may have exposed up to 4,000 farming families to financial hardship. The families affected have been forced into an impossible position. If they speak up, and blow the whistle on what is happening, they put their income at risk. It is hard to call out injustice when doing so could cost you your livelihood. Farmers cannot be saddled with the cost of this scandal! Today’s judgement serves to affirm that questions remain over the validity of the inspections that took place, and accordingly whether leakage of those tanks is indeed taking place. Further investigation on foot of today’s court ruling is needed into this matter of public interest.”