The View from Northern Ireland: The Forest Service of Northern Ireland today announced that its Forestry Grant Schemes is closing to new applications on 6 November 2013.

The closure is required because the Rural Development Programme (RDP) ends on 31 December 2013 and new forestry agreements cannot be made after this date.

In a statement, a forest service spokesperson said: “During the 2007 – 2013 RDP Forest Service has spent almost £10m sterling on forestry projects and has supported more than 1,400 hectares of new woodland planting. Now that the current schemes are closed to new applicants we will focus on reviewing the current RDP consultation exercise to develop new schemes. To take this forward forest service has engaged with key stakeholders to form a working group to develop scheme processes and details.”

Existing agreement holders are not affected and payments will continue as planned. The next payments scheduled are 2013 annual premia payments for Farm Woodland Premium Scheme and Farm Woodland Scheme, which begin later this month.

By Ciaran Moran