Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report May 2020


Activity since last National Council


  • The Hill Committee met on 14th May and discussed a wide range of topics.

CAP Transition

With a GLAS extension being sought, the Hill committee will be pressing for the commonage plans to be maintained, payments maintained and that there are no extra costs put on farmers including planning costs.

CAP Post 2020

  • The Hill committee policy is that in the context of new environmental requirements that designated areas qualify for the new eco-scheme.
  • Locally Led Schemes.
  • All schemes now up and running.
  • Payments are being made to all schemes, with €0.5m being paid out recently as part of the bonus payment in Hen Harrier areas.
  • The Locally led schemes, of which 9 operate in Hill and Mountain areas, are worth around €10m per year.
  • IFA will be looking for many of these schemes to be mainstreamed in the next CAP.


  • Following the increased allocation of €0.5m for the NPWS farm plan scheme IFA met with the Department in March to discuss details.
  • The Scheme was advertised on the NPWS website and applications were invited. It is available to all farmers in designated areas.
  • 95 applications were received. These applications were assessed based on priority habitat and species targeted, whether site was in a designated area, the significance of the site locally, regionally and nationally.
  • 78 applications were deemed of sufficient standard to take forward plans. Of these 49 plans will be rolled out. The details of these plans have yet to be finalised.
  • An NPWS farm planner selection will take place, to be followed by draft plans being submitted.
  • IFA has called for the plans to be meaningful, with farmers getting payments which relate to restrictions and work to be carried out.
  • While payments initially will be small, IFA sees the introduction of the Scheme, which has been closed since 2010, as a stepping stone to full restoration of the Scheme.
  • With the new Government due to be formed IFA will be pressing for a commitment that the NPWS farm plan scheme is fully restored.
  • Also, as part of IFA’s pre-Budget submission we will be seeking that €10m is provided to the NPWS Farm Plan scheme for 2021.
  • In relation to the agreement on SAC implementation, there has been no further meeting as legal clarification was required by NPWS on aspects surrounding conciliation, arbitration and instances where compensation is being claimed.


  • IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in April are not penalised.
  • This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and unless the Department have proof then no farmer should have their payments withheld.

Comhairle na Tuaithe

  • At a recent meeting of Comhaire na Tuaithe, a number of issues were dealt with including:
    1. Countryside Code.
    2. A vision for Comhairle na Tuaithe.
    3. Walk Scheme expansion and Review.
    4. Supports in upland areas from the Dept. of Community and Rural Development.
    5. Updates on Walking Trail criteria, Guidelines for outdoor activity events, Recreation in the Irish Countryside booklet, Membership and Working arrangements working group and National Rural Recreation Strategy.
  • 10 new walks are now included in the Walk Scheme as part of an extension which was secured by IFA in the Budget.
  • The 10 new trails included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme are:
CountyName of TrailNo. of landowners (approx.)Length on private land (approx.)
ClareEast Clare Way3336.5 km
GalwayHymany Way4060 km
KilkennyGathabawn Loop Walk42 km
KilkennyKilmacoliver Loop Walk33 km
LaoisBinninea Walk Cullahill104 km
LeitrimLeitrim Way12024 km
SligoKeash Hill Trail31.8 km
TipperaryOrmond Way4931 km
TipperaryMulteen Way169.4 km
WicklowSt Kevin’s Way52.5 km
  • IFA has welcomed the Ministers announcement and has called for an additional 30 walks to be included, to bring the total to 80.
  • In Budget 2021 IFA will be insisting that the allocation of €4m is allocated and spent fully.
  • Currently there are 2,000 farmers in the Scheme, and with the additional walks this will increase to 4,000 and will be worth €4m annually.

Upcoming Events

  • National Hill Committee Meeting – July 2020.
ChairmanFlor McCarthy
ExecutiveGerry Gunning

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