DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, has announced that the Higher Level of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Tranche 5 will open for applications from today. 

EFS Higher Level is for land with environmental designations, such as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), and other areas of priority habitat. To check if land is eligible, applicants should log on to the DAERA Online Services under EFS where the fields for each farm business will be marked as either Higher or Wider Level. Only those businesses with eligible Higher fields will be able to submit an EFS Higher application.

Launching tranche 5 of the Scheme Minister Poots said: “EFS Higher agreements help to bring our most important environmental sites under favourable management and the Scheme supports farmers in doing so.

“I have therefore taken the decision to open a fifth tranche of EFS Higher for applications from 30 April 2021. The application process must be completed online, and for those who may experience issues with access, my staff within the EFS team can offer assistance.

“As we emerge with hope from the current Covid-19 crisis, we need to be looking at protecting these sites over the next five years and assisting farmers who are willing to take up this challenge.

“I also hope to be able to announce a further application period for the EFS Wider Level later this year.”

Applications for tranche 5 EFS Higher must be submitted online before the end of Friday 21 May 2021.

If the number of applications exceeds the available resource, applications will be ranked and those providing the highest environmental benefit will be selected to proceed. 

How to apply:

EFS is an online application so you must have access to your DAERA Online Services account or use an agent who can represent your business online.

Comprehensive information on all the EFS options and the application process is available online through the EFS section of the DAERA website.

For further information or advice please telephone 0300 200 7848 or email: efs@daera-ni.gov.uk

Notes to editors: 

  1. EFS supports farmers to implement environmentally beneficial actions and works on their land. It aims to protect and enhance biodiversity and water quality, and mitigate against climate change by sequestering carbon.
  2. It is anticipated the EFS Tranche 5 agreements will start on 1 January 2022 and run for five years to 31 December 2026. EFS Higher Level aims to deliver site-specific management of environmentally designated sites and other priority habitats. Agreements usually involve payment for implementing a particular grazing regime, and can include other measures such as scrub, bracken or rush control.
  3. Over 5,000 EFS agreements are in place after four tranches.
  4. The Environmental Farming Scheme is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
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  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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