Sheep fencing could be included in the suite of eligible investments for grant aid as early as the first quarter of next year, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Following its announcement after the budget this year the Minister said his Department has advised the European Commission that it wishes to include sheep fencing as an eligible investment in the TAMS II suite of schemes.

He was responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv and also highlighted that it requires a formal amendment to the Rural Development Programme and only one such amendment is allowed any year.

“My Department has a number of items assembled for inclusion in the next amendment, some of which are quite complex, and all of which are currently under discussion with the European Commission,” he said.

When all aspects have been clarified to the satisfaction of the Commission, a final draft of the amendment will then submitted for approval.

Minister Coveney said he expects all remaining issues to be disposed of in the next few weeks which will allow submission of the final draft of the amendment in December.

“I would then expect that approval to proceed could issue sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

“Assuming approval is forthcoming, sheep fencing will be included in the list of eligible investments in the existing Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme and in the Young Farmers’ Capital Investment Scheme and the necessary arrangements will be made to amend the online application forms for both schemes accordingly,” he said.