€35m Hen Harrier Scheme delayed

Protected species: Hen harrier
Protected species: Hen harrier
Farming Independent Team

Farming Independent Team

Final contracts for the Government's new Hen Harrier Scheme are held up due to challenges from unsuccessful tenderers.

Last month, a project team was appointed to draw up the terms and conditions for the new €35m scheme to protect the endangered bird of prey, - popularly referred to as "sky dancers" - however, headway on the design has been momentarily stifled.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture confirmed the delay.

"It appears that one of the unsuccessful contractors that tendered for the process has a number of queries in and is challenging the process.

"It's delaying everything really to be honest, nothing can proceed until they find the answers are satisfactory.

"No contract can be concluded until that process is complete and all queries are answered satisfactorily," he said.

The Hen Harrier Scheme, led by the Golden Eagle Trust and a team of conservationists, agricultural advisers and environmental scientists, will provide farmers with an additional income stream on top of GLAS and GLAS Plus.

2017 Basic Payment Scheme opens

THE online applications system for the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Greening Scheme was opened yesterday by the Department of Agriculture.

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The closing date for the BPS in 2017 is Monday, May 15 but the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, urged farmers and advisors to complete applications as early as possible.

"I would urge as many farmers as possible to avail of the opportunity to apply for the BPS at this early stage, particularly via the online system," Minister Creed said.

"It is open for farmers to do this either as individuals or through an agent. Higher levels of online applications will allow my Department to continue to improve on the delivery to farmers of essential payments under schemes such as BPS and the ANC," he added.

Over 102,000 farmers applied online last year, with almost 31,000 remaining on the paper-based system. All BPS applications will go online in 2018.

"Officials from my Department will be providing a range of supports to farmers over the coming weeks to support them in making applications online as we move towards 100pc online application in 2018," Minister Creed pointed out.

Last year saw the introduction of preliminary checks for online applications, allowing applicants to be advised on certain errors and to correct such issues without penalty.

This assistance is available via www.agfood.ie and the dedicated Helpdesk at 076 1064424.

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