23rd October, 2015
ICSA Rural Development chairman Billy Gray has cautiously welcomed Minister Simon Coveney’s update on the new Locally –Led Agri Environment Schemes (LLAES) which are currently being developed.
“In theory this move has been made to cater for farmers who are farming large tracts of Hen Harrier land and while ICSA has been campaigning hard for a locally led Hen Harrier scheme to be introduced, and I am pleased with aspects of today’s progress update, there are still significant hurdles to be overcome”.
As Mr. Gray points out “the difficulty with the locally led scheme model is that the hen harrier designations are dispersed over several regions. Farmers with hen harrier designations in Laois have no prospect of being able to be part of the same scheme as farmers in Limerick or Cork. Therefore several schemes are required and each scheme will need appropriate professional expertise to assist farmers in drafting plans”.
“I am also concerned about the length of time it will take to get the schemes designed and approved, consequently these farmers will have a long time to wait before they see any money”.
“The treatment of Hen Harrier farmers over the last few years has been a disgrace, we are prepared to give this process a chance but we are not accepting that this is the only solution”.