The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has announced that 2016 payments will begin to issue this week under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

This scheme is co-funded under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP).

Minister Creed said he is pleased that payments will commence for the first full year of the GLAS Scheme to participants in the first two tranches of GLAS.

Payments representing 85% of the full year payment for 2016, the first full year of the Scheme, will commence and are expected to reach bank accounts in the coming days.

“These payments worth just under €100m, will give a welcome boost to both the wider rural economy and to individual Scheme participants which will be particularly welcome given the challenges faced by farmers in recent times,” he said.

Further GLAS payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as queries are resolved.

The Minister urged participating farmers to return any outstanding documentation, including any interim Commonage Management Plans and annual Low Emission Slurry Spreading Declaration Forms as soon as possible to facilitate payment.

In cases where these and any other outstanding issues with individual applications are resolved, payments will issue on an ongoing basis.

Minister Creed also said he was delighted with the level of interest shown in the third tranche of GLAS, with 14,000 applications received by the Department in advance of the closing date of December, 15, 2016.

The overall target for GLAS was to attract at least 50,000 farmers into the scheme over its lifetime and Minister Creed commented that the Scheme was a major success in reaching this target.

An analysis of the breakdown of these applications is underway.

A decision on the number of farmers to be accepted into this third tranche of the scheme will be made when this analysis is complete and it is anticipated that GLAS 3 approval letters will issue to applicants before the end of January 2017 for approval into the scheme with effect from January, 1, 2017.

I am very pleased with the progress with the GLAS Scheme to date with the issuing of the first full year of payments and the level of interest shown by Irish farmers in participating in the third tranche of the Scheme.

“This is indicative of the level of commitment of Irish farmers to protecting and nurturing environmentally sensitive areas as part of their farm enterprises and will yield important environmental dividends in respect of the promotion of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and the protection of water quality into the future,” he said.