1 April 2004 Edition

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Extortionate farm tyre tax

Sinn Féin's Six-County EU candidate Bairbre de Brún, agriculture spokesperson Gerry McHugh and environment spokesperson Willie Clarke have expressed anger at the imminent imposition of an EU directive that will force farmers to apply for a license, costing £700, to hold tyres on their farms.

The regulation, which will take effect from 19 June this year, is to be enforced by the Department of the Environment.

"Sinn Féin will be seeking an explanation as to why there was no consultation with the farming community, given the serious impact this will have," said de Brún. "This should not be imposed without proper consultation and impact assessment."

Gerry McHugh expressed his disbelief at the imposition of this latest regulation. "Farmers are suffering an intolerable amount of red tape, not to mention financial hardship. There is no way that farmers can afford to pay over £700 for a license."

According to McHugh, the new legislation raises more questions than answers.

"Farmers are recycling these tyres", said McHugh, "so who now will dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner. Who is going to check to ensure that farms have the necessary licenses? Will there be more farm visits?"

And Willie Clarke, the party's environmental spokesperson, added his criticism over the issue and promised to raise the issue with NIO Environment Minister Angela Smith.

"I will be calling on her to immediately derogate from this legislation and to begin an immediate consultation on the effects of this new EU directive," he said.

"The consequences of this directive are impossible to calculate. Firstly, there are 28,000 farm businesses, of which I am sure 90% use tyres. "The financial burden would be intolerable, but the impact on the environment would be considerable if a large quantity of tyres were to be fly tipped and the DoE would bear the responsibility in processing these".

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