Work on the roll-out of new Hen Harrier Scheme to ‘begin immediately’

Work on the roll-out of the new Hen Harrier Scheme will ‘begin immediately’, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced today.

Minister Creed confirmed that his Department had signed contracts with the Hen Harrier Project Ltd; representing a consortium of skilled and experienced conservationists, agricultural advisors and environmental scientists – to lead on the design and delivery of the new scheme.

It was announced at the end of February that a project team had been selected by the Department following a tender process, which closed at the end of January.

The chosen team reportedly offered the best approach for this new scheme, which seeks to save one of Ireland’s most endangered birds.

Following the long procurement process, the Department is now in a position to move forward with a strong, innovative proposal from a highly-qualified and experienced team, Minister Creed said.

I am looking forward to seeing the new scheme in place as soon as possible.

“This scheme is targeted specifically at farmers with designated land and should provide farmers in those areas with an important additional income stream on top of GLAS and GLAS plus,” Minister Creed said.

Project team

The new Hen Harrier team is led by Fergal Monaghan, an “experienced” farm advisor, who will work alongside the Golden Eagle Trust. Brendan O’Gorman Accountants are also set to provide financial management inputs.

team of raptor specialists, fieldworkers and farm advisors will support the roll-out of the scheme on the ground, with a “strong local focus” in delivery of the new measures.

This new approach is being introduced as a pilot project under the European Innovation Partnership measure, which forms part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP).

It is hoped the new approach will bring farmers, farm advisors, a conservation NGO and researchers together to deliver a targeted landscape-level intervention, which places the farmer “at the heart of the process”.

Creating sustainable farming systems that work for both the farmers and the birds, and deliver real socio-economic benefits to the areas concerned, is a key objective of the scheme, according to the Department.

The project is expected to be guided and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

‘Hen Harrier Scheme must benefit farmers’

The IFA National Hill Committee Chairman, Pat Dunne, welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed that a project team had been appointed.

He urged Minister Creed to ensure that a significant amount of the allocation to the Hen Harrier locally-led scheme benefits farmers.

Dunne believes it is important that the team gets to work immediately with farmers, so that schemes can be devised that will help to address the restrictions that designations have on their land and the impact these designations have on farm income.

Farmers in hen harrier areas want to see the benefits of this measure working immediately with payments being made without delay once plans have been drawn up, he said.