Dept holds back REPS payments as queries sent back to planners
PAYMENTS to thousands of REPS farmers have been delayed because plans have had to be returned to the original planners to be amended.
The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that, in a "significant number" of cases, administrative checks on REPS applications had raised issues and queries that required further detailed examination.
The Agricultural Consultants' Association (ACA) says one of the issues refers to phosphate calculations, which it says were incorrect on the Department's e-REPS system and did not tally with figures on hard-copy plans.
ACA president Pat Minnock said this issue had become apparent when applications were submitted last year but was not addressed by the Department.
"There may be other areas where the planner made mistakes, but part of the discrepancies would have come about because the instructions from the Department were unclear.
"When we were putting the plans together last year, a lot of the queries we had did not get an official response from the Department.
"This might come down to a different interpretation of the specifications," Mr Minnock claimed.
A Department spokesperson said payments had been going out steadily since mid-December but, in order to meet the requirements of EU regulations, applications had to go through an exhaustive series of administrative checks before the payments could be released.