The first tranche of annual tax-free forestry premium payments for 2017 have started to issue to those forest owners who applied on-line, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle has announced.

A total of €26.80m is being paid in this bulk payment run in respect of some 6,900 forest premium applications, Minister Doyle said.

“The Department will continue to process on-line applications for 2017 premiums as they are received, with payments being issued on a weekly basis.

“I would encourage forest owners to avail of the on-line facility because of the obvious benefits for them in terms of early premium payment.”

Forest owners may continue to apply for the payment of the annual premium online, through the Department’s Online Services.

For applicants who use the paper based application system, a further bulk premium payment run will be made in April 2017, it confirmed. Application forms for the paper based system will issue in February 2017.

A total of €111.6m (including a capital carryover) has been provided by the Government for the continued development of Ireland’s forestry sector in 2017.

“This level of funding is further evidence of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the sector as set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020.”

The grants available under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme cover the cost of establishing the forest plantation and the scheme also provides for payment of annual forestry premium of up to €635/ha for 15 years, details of which, including associated terms and conditions, are available on the Forestry page of the Department’s website.

The Department’s forestry online services now facilitates payment to forestry applicants who use the Integrated Forest Information System (IFORIS) over the internet.

The IFORIS computer system was developed by the Forest Service for the processing of forestry pre-approval, grant and premium applications.

The system was subsequently expanded to IFORIS Internet (iNet) to provide facilities to forestry companies to submit and manage their clients’ forestry scheme applications online.

Forest owners who are not registered and who would like to avail of this online service can register online.