Whether it’s “great news for the local farming industry” or “selling off the family silver”, it would have been better to have seen more visible deliberations before yesterday’s announcement that the publicly owned 100 acre Northern Ireland Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy is to be sold to cover the costs of meeting an EU deadline on improving environmental protection measures on farms. According to the Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew
The minister revealed: “We are selling the land at Crossnacreevy because we have exhausted the other avenues for getting this money. This is a large amount of money, £89 million, which we need to have if this work is to be completed by December 2008. We weren`t able to pursue it through the Department of Finance and Personnel. We don`t have the time to go down the route of the comprehensive spending review within government.”
The official statement mentions the “strategic disposal” at the end
As part of DARD’s obligations this arrangement includes the strategic disposal of land at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (ABFI) Crossnacreevy site. It will also involve relocation of staff. This is expected to occur within the CSR period which ends in 2010/2011.
It is planned to implement the staff relocation and disposal in such a way that it does not disrupt nor reduce the AFBI experimental, arable and grasslands programmes, nor impact upon the staffing levels associated with them.