Some 25,000 participants in the new GLAS scheme by the end of 2015, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail Agriculture spokesman Eamon Ó Cuív on the roll out of the new scheme. “It is envisaged that the number of Scheme participants at end of 2015 will be 25,000; at the end of 2016 will be 35,000 and at the end of 2017 will be 45,000 with the full complement of 50,000 being achieved in 2018.”

Minister Coveney noted that prior to any roll-out of the scheme the RDP must be submitted to the European Commission for approval and he expects to be in a position to do this shortly. The European Union approval procedure will involve a detailed analysis of our proposals and will take a number of months, he said.

The GLAS scheme is designed around core requirements which all applicants must satisfy. A tiered approach is being applied to entry into the Scheme and the tiers are based on a consideration of priority environmental assets and actions.

The proposed maximum payment is €5,000 per annum, with the Scheme building up to the inclusion of some 50,000 farmers with a total envisaged expenditure of €1,450m over the programming period. The Minister expects most farmers to achieve the maximum payment under the Scheme.

It is also proposed that, within budget limits, a GLAS+ payment would be put in place for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions which deliver an exceptional level of environmental benefit. It is proposed that this payment will be up to €2,000 per annum.