Farmer sees €27,500 penalty refunded following complaint to Ombudsman

A farmer managed to recoup over €27,000 of a penalty he was issued with by the Department of Agriculture when a complaint he submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman was upheld, the office revealed in its Annual Report for 2017.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, a man made a complaint when the Department of Agriculture sought to recover €27,550 from him in relation to a Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS 4) payment.

One of the conditions of the scheme is to notify the department of any changes to land ownership.

However, in 2012 he changed ownership of lands and failed to notify the relevant section of the department.

The department asked the man to return a payment of €27,550 which he had received under the scheme which he did. The department also cancelled the last two stages of the contract with the man.

The department acknowledged the man’s application had not been processed in accordance with Local Office procedure and that he had not received all the information to which he was entitled.

The Local Office had failed to issue an ‘Adjusted Plan’ letter. This letter outlines the consequences of not submitting an adjusted plan to inform the department of a change of land ownership. The Local Office had also failed to notify him of the termination of his contract.

According to the Ombudsman, the Department of Agriculture acknowledged it failed to follow Local Office procedure and reissued the payment of €27,550 which the man had returned to the department.

The department also processed the last two stages of his contract. This resulted in him receiving €13,651 for the last two stages of his contract.