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Saturday 3 December 2016

Dept shuts door on 2011 AEOS applications

Declan O'Brien

Published 01/06/2010 | 05:00

There are no plans to re-open the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) to new applicants in 2011, the Department of Agriculture has insisted.

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A spokesperson for the Department said the scheme was limited to 2010 applications and would not be available to farmers next year.

While exact figures for the total number of AEOS applications have still not been released by the Department, it is expected that the final figure will be well below the 10,000 limit set for the scheme.

Planners and Teagasc staff estimate that the final number of applicants is likely to be in the region of 8,000.

The Department indicated that 7,500 applications had been received in Johnstown Castle by last Friday but more are expected this week.

This will result in a significant under-spend of funds earmarked for the environmental package. A budget of €50m is available for the scheme, with applicants restricted to a maximum individual grant of €5,000.

Unrealistic

Since the average payment is unlikely to exceed €4,500 and the number of entrants is forecast to be around 8,000, total expenditure on the AEOS is not expected to top €36m.

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Meanwhile, ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said that the failure to meet participation and expenditure targets under the AEOS must not be seen as a reason to reduce environmental funding.

"The onus is very much on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately begin the process of ensuring that the Minister for Finance understands and supports the case for adequate agri-environment funding. The Government should not judge the scheme based on 2010," Mr Gilmartin said.

"It was simply unrealistic to introduce a hastily cobbled together scheme at the last minute as a replacement for REPS and expect farmers and planners to get to grips with it in a matter of a few weeks.

"This does not mean that the scheme won't be successful in the future. However, the key is to ensure that the Government gives it chance to bed in. This means it must be adequately funded in 2011 and 2012 to give all farmers exiting REPS 3 a chance to participate."

Irish Independent



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