Department rolls out €35m hen harrier scheme
Work on rolling out the Government's long-promised €35m hen harrier scheme is set to "begin immediately," Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced.
The Minister confirmed that contracts have been signed with the Hen Harrier Project Ltd, representing a consortium of conservationists, agricultural advisors and environmental scientists, to lead the design and delivery of the new locally-led scheme aimed at saving one of the country's most endangered birds.
Following a prolonged procurement process, and significant delays due to challenges from an unsuccessful tenderer, Minister Creed said the new scheme will be in place as soon as possible. "Ireland was one of the last strongholds for this remarkable bird and, with the support of all concerned - with farmers, conservations and the state bodies working in partnership - I believe it can become one again," said Minister Creed.
An estimated 4,500 farmers are awaiting compensation for severe restrictions on their lands which have been designated under hen harrier status - some for up to seven years.
Although farm lobby groups have welcomed the announcement, they say the Government still have a long way to go on resolving the issue.
ICMSA farm services committee chairman Pat Rohan said: "It is a step in the right direction, but it is long overdue." ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said farmers must get compensated immediately.
"These farmers have been trying to farm with both hands tied behind their back. For many, their land is now valueless," he said.
IFA farm forestry chairman Pat Dunne said: "Farmers in hen harrier and other areas expect a scheme that is going to be meaningful and worthwhile."