IFA SAC Project Chairman Tom Turley said that Natura areas must be a priority in the new GLAS scheme as farmers must be fully compensated for farming restrictions imposed.
Furthermore, Tom Turley said that where the GLAS does not properly compensate farmers then the onus is on the National Parks and Wildlife to provide payment to farmers in lieu of restrictions imposed. It is up to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys to address this issue and this was clearly spelled out to her as recently as last week.
Tom Turley said that as it stands, farmers with greater than 0.25ha of Natura land (SAC, SPA) and Commonages are a priority Tier 1 under the GLAS scheme. However, the €5,000 cap will present a problem for some farmers who have designated areas greater than what secures the maximum payment.
For example, a farmer with hen harrier area will get a payment of €370/ha meaning that 13.5ha will get a farmer the maximum €5,000. To address the problem of farmers with a greater area the farmer must qualify for GLAS + of a further €2,000 and also get a top-up payment from NPWS where the area is even greater.
The IFA SAC Project Chairman said of the allocation of €1.45bn of both EU and National funding in the new RDP 2014-2020 for GLAS will see at least 50% of this going to farmers in Natura and Commonage areas. This funding would not have been available if the national co-financing of 46% was not put in place.
Tom Turley pointed out that in the last RDP 2007 – 2013 around 35% of the funding or €700m of €2bn available was spent in Natura areas. This amount of funding of around €700m is being continued in the new programme.