For those interested in becoming a planner for the new Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme GLAS scheme, the qualifications required for the role have been outlined by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

In order to be approved as a GLAS advisor, an advisor must also be approved as an advisor under the Farm Advisory System (FAS) operated by the Department of Agriculture.

The Farm Advisory System is governed by EU Regulations, which requires that advisors are suitably qualified and regularly trained.

The Minister said that in determining the level of educational qualifications required to be a FAS/GLAS advisor, the Department must ensure that such qualifications are of an appropriate standard to meet the objectives and the requirements of the various schemes, and the associated governing legislation, on which advice is being provided.

He said advisors must be qualified to interpret soil tests, understand the requirements of all schemes and understand constraints of land management imposed by various land designations.

Furthermore, the Minister has stated that advisors must be in a position to translate this knowledge into detailed management plans and also advice for farmers not only on the schemes requirements but also on their farm operations.

Minister Coveney said in order to ensure that advisors meet the requirements outlined above, the Department requires that all advisors must have attained a FETAC Level 8 Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science/Land Management in Agriculture and must have taken soil science and an animal or crop production subject to a level 8 degree standard.

The announcement this weeks comes after students from Mountbellew Agricultural College was told its qualifications did not meet the required standard.

According to the Minister, the Department undertook a detailed examination of the course content of the level 7 BSc in Agriculture and Environment Management with the add-on level 8 BSc in Rural Enterprise in Rural Enterprise and Environment Management provided by Mountbellew Agricultural College and determined that this course does not meet the level 8 educational qualification standard required to be approved as a FAS/GLAS advisor.

However the Minister said the Department has received a request to review this decision and this request is currently being examined. A decision on this review will be notified to Mountbellew Agricultural College as soon as possible, he said.