‘Delay in Hen Harrier Scheme leaving farmers in a precarious position’

Further delays in the €35m Hen Harrier Scheme are leaving farmers in a more ‘precarious position than ever’, the ICSA’s Rural Development Chairman said.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association believes that an immediate interim payment should be made to all farmers with Hen Harrier designation, Seamus Sherlock added.

Sherlock was speaking following reports that the introduction of the new scheme has been further delayed.

“The ICSA understands that a delay has resulted due to a challenge from an unsuccessful tenderer for the scheme.

“While we are unaware of the merit or not of that challenge to the tendering process, it will no doubt take time to resolve and as such has left farmers in a more precarious position than ever.

The ICSA has been calling for an interim payment to be made while the scheme is put in place. This now needs to be made a priority.

“Farmers have waited long enough to be compensated. We always knew that the scheme would take time to put in place but patience is running out.

“Many farmers are very aggrieved and feel completely abandoned at this stage,” Sherlock said.

The ICSA’s Rural Development Chairman confirmed that his association will be available to assist with the implementation of new schemes.

But he warned that farmers must be assisted with an immediate payment to help ease the burden that designation has imposed upon their ability to make an income from their lands.

Project team announced

At the end of February, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced that a project team to run the new Hen Harrier Scheme had been selected.

The team was selected following a tender process operated by the Department, which closed at the end of January.

The project is a joint approach led by the Golden Eagle Trust, bringing together a team of conservationists, agricultural advisers and environmental scientists.

At the time of the appointment, Minister Creed said that the new project team would be tasked with developing the various actions to be carried out by farmers under the scheme.

It is expected that the team will be in consultation with the Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, he added.

The new scheme, which was targeted specifically at farmers with designated land, will provide farmers with an additional income stream on top of GLAS and GLAS Plus, Minister Creed said.