Hen harrier compensation package gets a cautious welcome
Farm bodies have called for the €23m compensation for farmers with tracts of land affected by the hen harrier Special Protection Areas (SPAs) legislation to be delivered as soon as possible.
There was a "cautious" welcome for the new measures announced last week by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. These will allow farmers in designated hen harrier areas to apply for funding under new Locally-Led Agri Environment Schemes (LLAES).
The ICSA's Billy Gray called on Mr Coveney to ensure the monies are disbursed within the next few months as a "goodwill gesture", while Liam O'Keeffe of the Irish Farmers with Designated Land (IFDL) organisation also called for a speedy delivery.
The ICMSA's Patrick Rohan said the minister had belatedly recognised the plight of the affected farmers.
However, it is likely to be several months before the compensation scheme receives EU Commission approval.
Some 4,000 farmers are adversely affected financially by the hen harrier designation and some 167,000ha of land - mainly in the west and southwest -has been effectively 'sterilised' by the conservation measure since it was introduced over seven years ago.
Only 10pc of the farmers impacted have received any kind of compensation.
The hen harrier SPA legislation has turned the designated land into hen harrier sanctuaries with no new development allowed on the land and a ban on converting it to forestry.