The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has updated stakeholders on the next phase of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS).
DAERA has informed applicants that there has been a significant increase in applications for certain options within the scheme, while uptake of some other options has been lower than envisaged. Therefore, a further assessment of Tranche 3 applications is being undertaken to ensure the EFS continues to deliver on the environmental outcomes envisaged in 2017.
A DAERA spokesman said: “The natural world is facing many challenges, from climate change to increasing pressures on water quality and biodiversity, and it is important that we work to address them at a local level. The Environmental Farming Scheme is one way farmers can play their part.
“The scheme has so far, proven popular with the agricultural community with demand being extremely high. The Department is greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm farmers have shown towards protecting and enhancing our environment. Tranche 3 is no different, with a total of over 2,900 applications received.”
The spokesman continued: “It is appropriate that we undertake some further assessment to ensure that the mix of options being applied for will continue to deliver the environmental benefits the scheme was designed to deliver and represent value for money.”
The Department aims to complete this work by early 2020. Whilst this work is ongoing DAERA will not issue further EFS agreements. The Department appreciates that this delay may be disappointing news to farmers who have an application pending and will provide further updates early in 2020.
Notes to editors:
- The Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) is DAERA’s current agri-environment scheme, and a key, compulsory element of the current NI Rural Development Programme (RDP).
- It was launched in February 2017 and has been subject to two Tranches, with a third tranche of applications currently being processed.
- EFS has two main elements. EFS (Higher) aims to improve habitat condition and biodiversity with an outcome target of 60,000 ha of environmentally designated land and priority habitat under favourable management. EFS (Wider) aims to improve biodiversity and water quality, and sequester carbon, across the wider countryside with an outcome target of creating 7,400 ha of green infrastructure.
- There are currently 570 EFS (Higher) agreements, covering 34,111 hectares and 2,365 EFS (Wider) agreements, covering 4,115 hectares.
- Applicants will receive a letter within the next few days informing them of the current position.
- The Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 is jointly financed by DAERA and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
- Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
- All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
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