HC Deb 06 November 1980 vol 991 cc664-5W
Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of Northern Ireland is classed as marginal land; what would be the percentage if the survey on increasing the area were implemented it full; and what are and would be the approximate numbers of farmers involved.

Mr. Giles Shaw

Approximately 44 per cent. of the agricultural area of Northern Ireland is designated under the European Community's less-favoured areas directive and some 12,300 farmers benefit from special measures to assist in these areas. The survey of marginal land, referred to in the hon. Gentleman's question, was undertaken without commitment that the less-favoured areas would be extended or that extra public funds would be made available for this purpose.

I cannot comment on the results of the Northern Ireland part of the survey until the survey has been completed throughout the United Kingdom and standards of assessment agreed. I will shortly be discussing with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food plans for completion of the survey which we hope will be accomplished in 1981.

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