To date some 11,000 applications have been created on the GLAS 3 online system, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said.

The Minister announced the application figures in response to a parliamentary question from Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fail’s Spokesperson on Agriculture.

Minister Creed said that given the large volume of applications being created applicants would again be encouraged to adopt actions that will promote them from Tier 3 to a higher tier, thus increasing their chances of selection into the scheme.

The deadline for the final receipt of applications is December 15

Within one week of the scheme opening, 3,200 farmers had created applications on the Department’s online system.

Under the GLAS 1 and 2 of the scheme, a total of 38,000 participants have been approved to date, which the Department has said is a record number of entrants to any agri-environment scheme in a single year.

The Department’s top priority remains to attract farmers with Tier One Environmental Assets, like endangered birds, Natura habitat, commonage land and high-status watercourses, the Minister said when he launched the scheme a number of weeks ago.

Payments under tranche 1 and 2 of the GLAS scheme will issue this month, the Minister announced this week.

Payments in respect of the 2016 scheme year, which was the first full year of the scheme, are scheduled to commence before the end of 2016.

Payment can only issue to participants who pass all the required validations. The total budget for GLAS in 2016 is €142m and it is expected to spend that allocation

The average payment to farmers under tranche 1 and tranche 2 of the scheme will be €4,600, he said.

This month’s payments follow on from payments made to farmers in tranche 1 of the GLAS scheme in 2015, where payments of €17m were issued to participants in the scheme.

The Minister also said that the 37,400 farmers currently involved in the scheme represents unprecedented level of participation in the first year of an agri-environment scheme in Ireland.