Over 600 farmers in Hen Harrier (HH) areas under the locally led scheme should expect payments in the comingweeks.

Speaking following a meeting with the HH Project manager Fergal Monaghan and attended by IFA representatives from SPA areas, IFA National Hill Farm Chairman Flor McCarthy said the early pay out was welcome.  “It’simportant that the scheme is expanded to bring in more farmers. Up to 90% of the farmers in the scheme are also in GLAS and no farmer should be denied entry.

The HH Scheme is part of the 2014–2020 Rural Development Plan with funding of €25m. The scheme applies in designated SPA areas in parts of nine counties and will run to 2023. The HH area covers approx. 55,000 ha of farmland, managed by 3,760 farmers. 

Flor McCarthy said if applications exceed 1,100 farmers,then Minister Creed should provide additional funding as it is important that this scheme is maximised.

In the next CAP, the IFA Hill Chairman said that the HH model should be expanded as farmers in SPA areas are been shortchanged by the National Parks and Wildlife Service since their original scheme was scrapped in 2010. Farmers in these areas suffer severe restrictions on farming, forestry and other activities.

The HH Project Manager Fergal Monaghan confirmed to IFA that there would be an appeal mechanism in place where disputes arose in relation to the points system which determine payments.

This must be fair as already some farmers are disappointed with the amount of money they get out of the scheme and, as a result, are not applying.

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