‘Important to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t’ – Calleary on new ‘REPS’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary has said that the upcoming flagship environmental scheme – described as ‘REPS Mark II’ – will adopt the “best elements” of existing environment schemes.

In answer to a recent parliamentary question from independent Galway East TD Seán Canney, Minister Calleary said: “The Programme for Government has set out clearly our strategy for agri-environment policy, not least our ambition to allocate €1.5 billion to a flagship environmental scheme under the next CAP [Common Agricultural Policy].”

“I have been very clear that the strong environmental ambition for the sector must be matched by a suitable CAP budget,” he added.

This will be included in Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan and we aim to pilot some elements of this in the transitional phase between the CAP programming periods as well as adopting the best elements of our existing agri-environment schemes.

“I am particularly impressed, for example, with some of the early lessons from the locally-led schemes currently run by my department and I know GLAS [Green, Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme] has delivered some really meaningful environmental results,” the minister said.

“It is important therefore that we reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t worked in designing new measures. There are a number of variables still undecided, which means it’s difficult to be definitive at this stage about the precise details of future schemes,” Minister Calleary noted.

These variables include, according the minister, an agreement on a legislative framework, both in terms of the next CAP as well as transitional CAP arrangements over the coming years before the next cap begins.

We are pressing hard for the earliest possible adoption of the EU regulations to facilitate the operation of schemes during the transitional period as the first priority. This is to provide some certainty until such time as CAP regulations and associated funding arrangements are agreed.

“As soon as we have this legal certainty, we will provide clarity and engage with all the relevant stakeholders on the next steps,” Minister Calleary added.