No commonage farmer can be refused access to the GLAS scheme due to the decisions of other shareholders insisted ICSA rural development chairman Billy Gray.

He said: “The requirement for 50% of shareholders or shareholders with more than 50% of the commonage area to sign up to the plan may work in theory but ICSA is convinced there will be cases where this does not work out. In such circumstances, we have to ensure that the farmers who want to do what is required are not excluded.”

Gray welcomed the clarification that the Pillar 1 payment would not be affected by GLAS participation or non-participation or with maximum stocking rates set out under a GLAS plan. “We welcome the fact that the only condition applying to getting a Pillar 1 payment will be a minimum stocking rate of 1 ewe per 1.5 ha on commonage ground or lower where the environmental conditions require it.”

Gray also said that ICSA also pushed for ongoing consultation between the Commonage Appeals Committee and the farm organisations. “This was readily accepted by the committee chairman Joe Healy. However, we need the Department to take a flexible approach to ensure that no commonage farmer who wants to be in GLAS is left out.”