McIlveen announces additional application date for the Forest Expansion Scheme

Date published: 06 September 2016

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen today announced a second application date of 12 September 2016 for the Forest Expansion Scheme under the Rural Development Programme, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, to help farmers and landowners benefit from the Chancellor's assurance that “all structural and investment fund projects ... signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.”

The Scheme is competitive, and provides support for farmers and landowners to plant woodlands of five hectares or larger this coming winter. The first phase of the Scheme last year resulted in over 180 hectares of new woodland planting. This year, applicants can apply by 12 September or by 30 September. Those applying by the 12th will be considered first, and any that are unsuccessful in the first tranche will be considered again alongside those applying by the 30th, subject to funds remaining after consideration of the first tranche. 

The Minister commented that this scheme is a valuable opportunity for farmers and landowners to diversify part or all of their holding into forestry, and so make a valuable contribution to the Northern Ireland economy post EU-exit. She said: “Forestry has potential to contribute to a number of the outcomes in the new draft Programme for Government. These include living and working sustainably and protecting the environment by working in forestry, wood processing, and the small businesses that use forests for tourism and pre-school activities; by supplying wood as a substitute for fossil fuels; and living long, healthy active lives by taking exercise in our forests.”

Successful applicants to the Forest Expansion Scheme Establishment Grant will receive up to 100% of eligible costs and an Annual Premia payable over a 10 year period.

The Forest Expansion Scheme is competitive, projects must conform to the UK Forestry Standard and it favours bids with lower costs part financed by the applicant. Applications are scored higher by providing public access, increased carbon sequestration, richer biodiversity, and larger scale over other bids.

The Minister went on to say: “I am aware of the challenges facing the land based and forestry sector caused by the impact of global markets, exchange rate fluctuations and international trade. I will be engaging to help forge a new relationship with Europe and to develop a support framework that meets the needs and aspirations of the forestry sector.

“I am committed to addressing all of these challenges. By working collectively with forest growers and stakeholders, we can build a forest industry that is well positioned in the global timber marketplace to supply the growing demand for wood, to provide people in Northern Ireland with a wide range of social and environmental benefits that forestry has to offer.”

For further details of the Scheme and advice on how to apply, an information booklet and application form are available on the DAERA website or contact Forest Service on telephone number 028 6634 3019 or email: Applications for the Forest Expansion Scheme must be submitted to Forest Service by 10.00am Monday 12 September 2016 or 3.00pm Friday 30 September 2016 for the 2016/17 planting season.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Forest Expansion Scheme will encourage larger woodland planting (five hectares and larger) to increase long-term storage of carbon in trees and counter climate change, to provide publicly accessible forests and forests suitable for wildlife and timber production.
  2. Land on which Single Farm Payment(SFP) was paid in the 2008 scheme year or subsequently and was converted to forestry under an EU scheme remains eligible for SFP (or the successor Basic Payment Scheme) for the duration of the Forestry Grant Scheme. Similarly land eligible for BPS converted to forestry under an EU scheme remains eligible for BPS for the duration of the Forestry Grant Scheme.
  3. The Forest Expansion Scheme – Establishment Grant is competitive and those projects which maximise delivery of scheme objectives at minimum cost that is those offering best value for money, will be prioritised and selected for funding. Successful applicants may receive up to 100% of eligible costs, however bids with lower costs may make your application better value for money and more likely to be selected for funding.
  4. The Forest Expansion Scheme – Annual Premia are now payable over a 10 year period at increased rates but for a shorter time period compared with the previous annual premia scheme. To be accepted into the Scheme the land must be in agricultural use.
  5. The Chancellor’s statement can be found on the Gov.UK website.
  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DARD Press Office: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
  7. Follow us on Twitter @daera_ni

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