More to do in Hen Harrier Scheme despite pay-outs – IFA

More than 600 farmers in hen harrier (HH) areas should expect payment in the coming weeks, under the locally-led HH scheme.

However, The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) claimed that, while the early payments are welcome, more farmers needed to be included in the scheme.

“It’s important that the scheme is expanded to bring in more farmers. Up to 90% of the farmers in the scheme are also in GLAS ( Green, Low-carbon, Agri-environment Scheme) and no farmer should be denied entry,” said Flor McCarthy, IFA National Hill Farm chairman.

His comments come after a meeting with HH project manager Fergal Monaghan, which was also attended by IFA representatives from Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

McCarthy added that if applications for the Scheme exceed 1,100, than Michael Creed, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, should ensure that additional funding is made available to meet this demand.

The current scheme has a budget of €25 million, and applies to SPAs across nine counties, covering 55,000ha of farmland, on which over 3,700 farmers work.

Farmers in SPAs face restrictions on their activities, and McCarthy claimed that they were being “shortchanged” by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

He called for the expansion of the HH Scheme in the next run of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Meanwhile, HH project manager Fergal Monaghan claimed that there will be an appeals process in place if disputes arise in the issuing of payments.