Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Planners fear that GLAS online system will collapse

Crash fears: GLAS online
Crash fears: GLAS online
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Nervous planners struggling to cope with last minute changes to payment schemes are worried that the Department of Agriculture's online system is going to crash as the first of the application deadlines kicks in next week.

The publication of entry criteria for Tier 3 GLAS applicants last week has forced planners to revisit thousands of GLAS applications a fortnight before the scheme closes on Friday, May 22.

"In at least half of my Tier 3 cases, the required points level of 16.3 points is not reached," said Donegal planner, Liam McKinney.

But it is the possibility of the system grinding to a halt that planners are most concerned about.

"We're very scared that the system will crash in the final few days," commented Kerry advisor, Eddie McQuinn.

"The system is working fine at the moment, but it was a nightmare in the first few weeks. It just wasn't fit for purpose, and it had nothing to do with the internet service. But it would be the ultimate nightmare if the system died anytime over the next three weeks," he said.

More and more GLAS applicants with commonage and SAC area look like they will be waiting until September before they can access the scheme.

"Planners want to provide the best service possible to clients, but they cannot work miracles. I think a lot of commonage and SAC guys are going to end up having to wait until the autumn," said Mr McKinney, referring to the increasing workload required to be completed by May 29 deadline.

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Applications to the young farmer and Scottish derogation reserves, the organic scheme, STAP (sheep) baseline studies, and the Beef Data Scheme that was announced just last week, have all been added to the May deadline.

"I think that thousands of farmers are now looking at having to change their GLAS application. In a lot of cases farmers will want to meet them again, and pick whatever extra options the farmer requires to reach the pass level of 16.3 points.

"This all requires extra time in what is probably the busiest and most important year for a decade," said Mr McKinney.

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