Dept confirms SAC cash recall
The Department of Agriculture is seeking to recover Special Area of Conservation (SAC) payments made to REPS farmers on lands adjoining some of the country's major rivers.
The Department has written to several REPS farmers informing them that the area along river banks which has been designated in plans as SACs was incorrect.
As a consequence, the Department is now looking to recover the difference between the standard REPS payment and the Natura premium for the affected lands. In some cases the amount being sought is for three and four years of REPS payments.
Carlow farm consultant Pat Minnock said several of these cases had recently come to light. In one instance the repayment being sought by the Department was almost €2,500.
The problems stem from changes to the area on river margins which were designated as SACs.
Initially, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) set the boundaries for river SACs at 30m or more from the river -- and also included floodplains.
Where farmers with river SACs applied for REPS, their REPS plans were drawn up on the basis of the 30m boundaries. The farmers concerned would then have qualified, on those areas, for the Natura rate of payment, which is higher than the basic rate.