Farmer access to the new GLAS scheme is by means of three Tiers, according to the latest information on the scheme.

According to the Minister for Agriculture, this will allow the most pressing environmental priorities to be addressed in order of importance, but also provides for a broad approach to delivering environmental benefits across all farming systems.

The Minister has said it is designed to specifically target environmental priorities, but it also has provision for farmers with no such priorities, but who are committed to carrying out general environmental actions on their holdings.

Criteria for entry to GLAS

Tier 1

In Tier 1, all farmers with Priority Environmental Assets (PEAs) get first priority access to the Scheme in year one and subsequent years. If any of the following PEAs are applicable to the holding, they must be chosen and the relevant actions planned.

  • Farmland Habitat (private Natura sites)
  • Farmland Birds (Twite, Breeding Waders, Chough, Geese/swans, Corncrake, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier)
  • Commonages
  • High Status Water Area
  • Rare Breeds

In the absence of any of the listed PEAs, a farmer (whether beef, sheep or dairy) with a whole farm stocking-rate exceeding 140kg Livestock Manure Nitrogen per hectare produced on the holding, or any farmer with more than 30 hectare of arable crops, will be considered under Tier 1 if at least one of the following four mandatory actions is adopted:

Mandatory actions for farms with >140 kg Livstock Manure Nitrogen per hectare

  • Low Emission Slurry Spreading Or
  • Wild Bird Cover (grassland farms only)

Mandatory actions for farms with >30 ha or arable crops

  • Catch Crops Or
  • Minimum Tillage

Registered Organic farmers will qualify for priority access to the scheme under Tier 1, by selecting actions appropriate to the farm.

Tier 2

Under Tier 2 farmers, who do not have Priority Environmental Assets but whose lands include a Vulnerable Water Area, may apply for access to the scheme. In such cases, the appropriate actions relevant to Vulnerable Water Areas must be selected. In the absence of a Vulnerable Water Area, an applicant may still qualify for Tier 2 access provided that one of the following actions are chosen and planned for:

  • Low Emission Slurry Spreading
  • Minimum Tillage
  • Catch Crops
  • Wild Bird Cover (grassland farms only).

Tier 3

Tier 3 sets out a list of actions which can be adopted in addition to actions laid down in Tiers 1 or 2, providing a means by which farmers can maximise their GLAS payment.

However, Tier 3 also provides a mechanism by which farmers who do not fulfil any of the criteria for Tiers 1 or 2, can apply to join GLAS by committing to a series of general and valuable environmental actions. Minister Coveney has confirmed that Tier 3 farmers are eligible to apply for GLAS in their own right.

He has said the funding secured will accommodate the approval of 25,000 to 30,000 farmers in the first tranche of applications. He also said based on the number of valid applications received, a scoring matrix may apply if necessary.