Payments slashed in new REPS plan
Huge cuts among raft of changes in 'disappointing' proposals
Farmers in Natura 2000 and commonage areas face payment cuts of up to 70pc under the proposed new agri-environment scheme from the Department of Agriculture.
Payment rates will be reduced from €242/ha to just €75/ha for farmers in a special area of conservation (SAC), special protected area (SPA) and national heritage area (NHA) as well as non-designated commonage areas in the new Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS).
The massive reduction is among several changes revealed when the Department issued its proposals for the new AEOS last Thursday.
With a proposed start date of May 17, the scheme will be open to farmers who are not in REPS on that date.
Farmers who are in REPS then, or who take part in the National Parks and Wildlife Service or Burren LIFE schemes, will not be eligible.
The proposed scheme is designed to address three main issues: halting biodiversity change; maintaining water quality; and combating climate change.
Within the scheme, there are two categories of applicant. Category 1 farmers are those who farm in Natura 2000 and commonage areas. These farmers have priority entry to the scheme and must submit a sustainable management plan prepared by an agriculturalist.
They can also choose other actions from a menu of options.