Hen Harrier Project applicants encouraged to return contracts

Just under 700 applicants have been offered a contract under the Hen Harrier Project, according to the manager of the project, Fergal Monaghan.

Successful applicants have been asked to return their signed contracts within one month from the date of issue. It is understood that the last of those contracts were sent out at the end of June.

Offers to participate in the programme will be withdrawn if overdue contacts are not returned within the allotted time frame.

The experienced agricultural consultant outlined that about 500 contracts have been returned by applicants to date.

The total number of applications to the project equalled somewhere between 1,400 and 1,500, he added.

Taking everything into account, Monaghan expects that around 90% of the contracts sent out will be returned.

More contracts are set to be sent out to applicants in the coming months.

“It was always intended that it would be a gradual intake process,” Monaghan said.

The total number of contracts that will be sent out to applicants is expected to reach between 1,100 and 1,200.

Advisor training

Meanwhile, approximately 70 hen harrier farm advisors have completed both phases of the mandatory training process run by the Hen Harrier Project.

Successful applicants must engage with an approved advisor to participate in the programme.

A trained advisor is needed to assess the habitats on a farm, to advise participants on appropriate supporting actions and to help farmers prepare an Annual Works Plan, according to the Hen Harrier Project.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, allocated a budget of €25 million for this scheme.

Monaghan explained that advisors can begin making payment claims for applicants in the coming months and that payments will begin to issue in late September or early October.