The Department of Agriculture has recently produced a guide to help farmers understand and comply with the rules on land eligibility for the various area related EU schemes.
Here are some of the key features it has identified as ineligible on Irish farms.
Farmyards, Concreted or Gravelled Areas and Farm Roadways
Areas under these features must be deducted in full as they are ineligible. Gravelled areas can include farmyards and areas where bales of hay, silage or straw are stored.
Where farm roadways are fenced off from the adjoining fields then the area between the fence lines is ineligible.
Where the roadway runs alongside a field boundary or within a field and is open to the field, the width of the gravelled area must be deducted.
Ponds, Rivers, Streams
The areas under ponds, rivers and streams are ineligible and must be marked for exclusion.
Rivers and streams are marked on the Ordnance Survey Discovery Series maps with a blue line whereas drains are not. There is no need to deduct the area under drains as they have been designated as landscape features under GAEC and as such are eligible.
With regards to turloughs, all areas that become available for grazing during the summer are eligible. Areas which are permanently ineligible, be it areas under water or areas too wet for grazing, must be deducted as ineligible.
Where rivers and streams are fenced to prevent damage by animals, as required under environmental schemes such as REPS, AEOS, GLAS, etc., the area inside the fence continues to be eligible.
The area under outcropping rock is not eligible as it is not available for grazing.
Rocky areas with no grazing must be deducted as ineligible. Where the rock is interspersed with grazing areas a reduction coefficient must be applied to reflect the loss in area due to the presence of the rock.
Areas under dense scrub with no interspersed grazing must be deducted as 100% ineligible. Scattered scrub must be treated.
In addition farmers must comply with the Department’s EIA Regulation.If the land is designated as either SAC or SPA prior approval to remove scrub is required from the NPWS.
Quarries, Sand and Gravel Pits
The area under quarries, sand and gravel pits are not eligible.
Marshy or Wet Areas
Areas which are permanently too wet for animals or machinery to enter, are not eligible and must be deducted in full from the parcel area.
Areas fenced off
Areas or parts of parcels which are fenced off are not eligible and must be deducted in full. Exceptions are REPS 4a new habitats where applicant is in REPS, Designated Habitats and Riparian Zones.
Unused Areas of Arable Parcels
Areas of arable parcels which are not used for cropping and are not kept in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation are not eligible. Such areas must be deducted in full as ineligible.
Generally all of the above described ineligible features/areas will be visible on the maps issued to all farmers so it is a matter of marking them with a red line on a copy of the map or on the on-line application/mapping system and adjusting the claimed area accordingly.
Where the area of a single ineligible feature or where the combined area of two or more ineligible features within a parcel amounts to less than 0.01 hectares, there is no need to make a deduction.