Some 10,916 land eligibility appeals have been received by the Department of Agriculture to date, of which 9,237 have been finalised or in the final stages of processing.

According to latest figures released by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney this week a further 1,679 cases are in the process of either ground verification visits or administrative validation. To date, 433 cases have been referred to the LPIS Appeals Committee for consideration.

The Minister said this week that the Department is bound, under EU Regulations, to maintain the accuracy of the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) which underpins the direct payments.

He said at the start of each year, the Department issues colour maps of all land parcels declared by farmers in the previous year together with a covering letter.

In that letter, farmers are informed of the need to carefully examine each map carefully and to identify and exclude from their application all unfarmed land, ineligible features such as buildings, farmyards, scrub, roadways, forests, lakes etc. included in the land parcels.

The Minister said there is, therefore, an onus on all farmers to ensure that the area of land declared by them as eligible for payment under the Direct Payment Schemes is accurate.

He said they are also given the means to do so by making the ortho-photos available to them on an annual basis.

In the letters which issue where ineligible areas have been identified, Minister Coveney said considerable detail regarding the issues and maps to advise of the particular over-claims, are provided, in addition to which farmers are also informed of the appeals process, should they disagree with my Department’s findings.

He said the appeals process he has introduced is both robust and comprehensive; in the first instance, applicants are entitled to have their case reviewed by submitting their appeal on the form provided by my Department.

If they are not satisfied with the outcome of the review, they can appeal their case to the independently-chaired Land Eligibility Appeals Committee, he said.