The 2021 GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme has just opened – and this year will involve an online application process, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced.

This scheme funds the conservation and preservation of traditional farm buildings and structures of significant heritage value and which are conserved for agriculture use.

The Heritage Council manages the scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.

It is open to applicants who participate in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS). It is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Rural Development Programme.

Speaking about the announcement, Minister McConalogue said that €1.25 million had been secured for the scheme in the budget.

“The earliest structure supported on the scheme so far dates from the early 15th century, still standing, still functional,” the minister said.

“The greenest building is the one that already exists, embodying carbon and offsetting the need for expensive new buildings as long they are well used.”

The grants available range between €4,000 and €25,000 with up to 75% of the cost of the project eligible for funding with a maximum available grant of €25,000.

The closing date for receipt of online applications is Monday, April 5, 2021, at 5:00pm. The terms and conditions and the online application form are available at the Heritage Council website.

Virginia Teehan, Heritage Council CEO, said: “These buildings are of immense social and environmental value as well as serving as a very useful resource on farms. With proper care and maintenance almost all this building stock will continue to endure and be resilient for the farm enterprise.

“However, for these buildings to survive they need the skills that went into making them to remain living traditions.

This funding invests in those craftspeople skilled in traditional repair techniques as well as the heritage expertise needed and will be particularly welcome by those sectors who have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Over the coming year, we are confident we will see many examples of projects which improve the quality of our rural landscape for farmers, rural dwellers and visitors, while at the same time preserving the integrity of our past.”

Minister McConalogue concluded: “The benefits of the scheme go beyond retaining the structures for future generations because it can also have significant biodiversity benefits. Even the smallest building can provide roosting sites for bats and nesting sites for birds.

“Many can support a great diversity of wildlife, including species of conservation concern and this scheme works with farmers to support, enhance and safeguard the wildlife inhabiting these buildings.”