Forestry Grant Scheme
COVID-19 Questions & Answers
(last reviewed 29 June 2020)

  1. Will there be any delay to forestry payments being issued due to Covid -19 restrictions?

The Department aims to make payments within 12 weeks of receipt of a fully completed claim form and supporting documents as outlined in the scheme information booklet. The Department has paused all routine Non - Farm inspections until 30 April 2020 which includes Forestry Grant Schemes.

 

  1. Will Forest Service relax the requirement for signed claim forms and supporting documentation?

All claims must be signed by the agreement holder and submitted with the required supporting documentation.

If agreement holders are unable to use the postal system they should complete the claim form and photograph/scan and email claims to Forest Service at grants.forestservice@daera-ni.gov.uk from their own email account. Forest Service will accept online printouts and mini bank statements without being verified by the banking institution. A forestry agent’s bank statement showing defrayment from the agreement holders account is helpful supporting information but does not replace the requirement to have a copy of the agreement holders bank statement.

 

  1. If forestry contractors and their staff are unable to complete projects and agreement holders cannot meet the 29 May deadline for receipt of claims, would agreement holders be exempt from any penalties that are usually imposed for late claims?

Forest Service has written to agreement holders and agents advising how they can request a revised letter of offer for their project with a claim date of 31 December 2020. Forest Service cannot process claims for incomplete projects.

 

  1. If forestry contractors are unable to carry out maintenance work e.g. weed control, will it be possible to defer the work and claim it in the following year?

In line with normal practice, agreement holders may request to defer maintenance from one year to the next. The Department cannot be responsible for any additional costs arising from deferral.

 

  1. Will Forest Service extend the application period for the 2020/2021 Forest Expansion Scheme?

Forest Service plan to open the Forest Expansion Scheme in May 2020 and close after 3 months at the end of August 2020. Applicants and Agents must follow the Government guidance applicable at the time when preparing applications.

It will not be possible to extend the application period beyond August 2020 because new Rural Development Programme agreements must be made by 31 December 2020 to be eligible for support.

 

  1. What about new applications for Woodland Investment Grant or Forest Protection Scheme?

Forest Service has processed all applications received for both schemes to approval stage. The Department has paused all routine Non - Farm inspections until 30 April 2020 which includes Forestry Grant Schemes.

 

  1. What is Government Covid-19 guidance on working?

All businesses should follow the Government Covid-19 guidance which is available from the links below, which include guidance for employees, employers and businesses and guidance on going to work.

  1. If forestry contractors are unable to complete some contracts can those particular schemes be completed in Autumn and claimed in 2020?

Forest Service has written to agreement holders and agents advising how they can request a revised letter of offer for their project with a claim date of 31 December 2020. Forest Service cannot process claims for incomplete projects.

 

  1. How can I contact Forest Service for further advice?

Please email grants.forestservice@daera-ni.gov.uk or phone 028 6634 3107 for further advice if required.

 

  1. How can I get further information from The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs?

The Departments website will be updated periodically and you should check it in the first instance https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/landing-pages/daera-and-covid-19

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