The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has said he will monitor the progress of advisors in the preparation of commonage management plans in regard to setting realistic deadlines for their completion.

GLAS Commonage Advisors have been appointed to 1,800 commonages, while appointments to the remainder will be made very shortly.

Where Commonage Advisors have been appointed, preparation of commonage management plans can commence and fieldwork has already been carried out in many cases.

According to the Minister in addition, some 200 applications were in respect of commonages under 10ha in area, and he said these do not require the appointment of a single Commonage Advisor; in all such cases, applicants are free to draw up individual plans.

The Minister said the over-riding objective here is to ensure that the best quality plans are prepared.

“With that in mind I continue to monitor the situation carefully, particularly with regard to the setting of realistic deadlines for the completion of Commonage Management Plans.

“Where it is clear that real progress is being made, it is my intention to ensure that payments are made to the commonage farmers concerned this year,” he said.

According to the Department’s current terms and conditions, advisors have until October 31, to complete these plans.

The commonage management plans will outline how each commonage’s unique landscape will be managed in the future so as to maintain both its environmental and agricultural value. The task involves assessing eligibility, mapping dumping and encroachments onto a commonage. The process is time-consuming and requires a thorough and time-consuming site investigations.