Less than 350 GLAS planners, of the 700 who attended planner training courses in recent weeks, have been approved by the Department of Agriculture to date.

Of the 348 planners approved to date, 125 are Teagasc-based, which leaves just 223 independent agricultural consultants approved to handle GLAS plans.

Approximately 30,000 farmers are expected, by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to apply for the scheme this year before the deadline of April 30.

The April 30 deadline leaves just six weeks for farmers and planners to submit plans for a possible 30,000 farmers.

Gerry Boyle told and Oireachtas committee that FRS has recruited 80 qualified planners and that this should allow it to achieve its targets of 8,000 Teagasc clients submitting plans into GLAS. “We think we have enough planners to do this,” he said.

In relation to the deadline, he said that Teagasc anticipated a much longer longer planning period. Boyle said that the “deadline is very challenging”.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that around 700 planners attended GLAS training and 348 of these have been fully approved as GLAS Advisors.

“The remainder are being approved on an ongoing basis once all qualifying criteria has been met and all required documentation has been submitted. This includes evidence of professional indemnity cover, a requirement which has specifically been put in place to protect farmers in the event that they have a legitimate claim against an advisor.

“This list is updated as soon as additional advisors are approved and I am confident that there are enough advisors available to allow farmers to make an informed choice as to who to use for preparation of their GLAS applications,” the Minister said.