Latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 5,000 GLAS applications have been processed online since the schemes opening just four weeks ago.

It comes after much criticism of the scheme from planners over a tight deadline and initial glitches with the system.

A total of €1.4bn has been allocated to GLAS over the lifetime of the programme, allowing a standard ‘package’ of up to €5,000 for eligible farmers per annum, with an additional package of €2,000 per annum for those in GLAS+, in return for exceptional environmental commitment.

The Department of Agriculture has said that GLAS, which is co-funded by the EU, is an ambitious measure that aims to deliver overarching benefits in terms of the rural environment, focusing in particular on the preservation of habitats and species, on climate change mitigation, and on water quality.

It says the scheme marks a new departure for agri-environmental schemes, introducing a highly targeted approach, pinpointing in advance the key priority environmental assets that we need to protect and support over the lifetime of this programme and linking these directly to the individual farmers who possess and maintain these on their land.

Some 435 GLAS planners, of the 700 who attended planner training courses in recent weeks, have been approved by the Department of Agriculture to date.

Approximately 30,000 farmers are expected, by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to apply for the scheme this year before the deadline of April 30.

READ: Hope that GLAS deadline will be extended