Hen Harrier Scheme to provide ‘income’ for farmers

The Hen Harrier Scheme will provide farmers with an additional income stream on top of GLAS and GLAS Plus, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said.

The new scheme was targeted specifically at farmers with designated land, Minister Creed said.

A Project Team to run the new Hen Harrier Scheme has now been selected following a tender process operated by the Department, which closed at the end of January.

Following careful assessment of the proposals received, the selection committee identified ‘The Hen Harrier Project’ as the approach which best reflected the aims and objectives of the new scheme, according to the Department.

The project is a joint approach led by the Golden Eagle Trust, bringing together a team of experienced conservationists, agricultural advisers and environmental scientists.

The new Project Team will be tasked with developing the various actions to be carried out by farmers under the scheme, Minister Creed said.

The team will be in consultation with the Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Minister Creed added.

Being a locally-led scheme, this process will also include the local knowledge and inputs from farmers on the ground.

“Once the terms and conditions have been agreed the recruitment of farmers to this critical scheme will commence,” he said.

‘Important that Project Team gets to work immediately’

IFA National Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has called upon Minister Creed to ensure that a significant amount of the allocation, to the locally-led Hen Harrier Scheme, benefits farmers.

Dunne welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed that a Project Team has been appointed.

He believes it is important that the team gets to work immediately with farmers, so that schemes can be devised that will help to address the restrictions that designations have on their land and the impact these designations have on farm income.

This scheme is the last element of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme to be implemented, so farmers in hen harrier and other areas expect a scheme that is going to be meaningful and worthwhile, he said.

Dunne said, that of the €35m allocated to this element of the locally-led schemes, it is important that the vast majority is spent in hen harrier areas.

Farmers in hen harrier areas want to see the benefits of this measure working immediately with payments being made without delay once plans have been drawn up, he added.