The second tranche of GLAS, the agri-environmental scheme which replaces REPS and AEOS, has been launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.
The first tranche of GLAS, which closed on May 26 this year, attracted almost 27,000 applications. The Minister said the second tranche will increase this to at least 35,000 and up to 40,000.
The overall target for GLAS is to attract 50,000 farmers into the new scheme over its lifetime.
The Minister has come in for significant criticism after it was revealed that the second tranche would not include some of the most popular measures of the first tranche of GLAS.
The Minister said on the basis of the 27,000 GLAS plans submitted to date, Ireland has already met or exceeded RDP targets for Low Input Permanent Pasture, Protection of Watercourses, Laying Hedgerows, Planting New Hedgerows, Planting of Traditional Orchards, Bird, Bee and Bat Habitats, Wild Bird Cover and Stone Wall Maintenance.
He said for the second tranche of GLAS, a number of adjustments to the available actions are being made.
According to the Department some, such as those to protect farmland birds and Natura land, will make it easier for farmers to adapt to the new regimes required, and will encourage even greater uptake of these measures.
However, others respond to the fact that we have achieved or exceeded targets in some areas such as Low Input Permanent Pasture (LIPP), new hedgerows and traditional orchards, according to the Department.
“GLAS is a target-driven environmental scheme and from tranche-to-tranche we will be adjusting the menu of options to ensure we achieve the right mix over the course of the programme as a whole,” Minister Coveney said today.
“Our top priority remains to attract in farmers with Tier One Environmental Assets, like endangered birds, Natura habitat, commonage land and high-status watercourses. I expect that a large proportion of the intake from Tranche 2 will be drawn from this category. “
The Minister announced that he was publishing the Terms and Conditions for the second Tranche of GLAS immediately, along with the detailed Specification for Tranche 2 actions. He asked farmers and their advisors to read these carefully. The live system for applications will remain open for some six weeks.
In relation to the first tranche of GLAS, some of the headline outcomes were as follows:
- 180,000ha of permanent pasture will be conserved
- 8,000km of water courses will be protected
- 40,000ha of endangered bird habitat will be brought under sustainable management
- 50,000ha of other privately-owned Natura habitat will be protected
- 2,700 commonages (nearly 60% of all commonages in the country) will be brought under new Commonage
- 1,300km of new hedgerows will be planted
- 2,000 new groves of native trees will be established
- 1,000 new orchards of traditional Irish varieties will be planted
- 6,000km of stone walls will be protected
- 6,000 new habitats will be created for threatened solitary bee species
- 90,000 bird boxes and 80,000 bat boxes will be erected
- 3,000 archaeological monuments will be protected
- 8,000ha of wild bird cover will be planted, providing up to 12,000t of winter feed for wild birds.