Fine Gael TD for Clare and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, has encouraged interested Clare farmers to apply for the new Burren Programme which is open for applications until 21st December. The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, today (Tuesday) began accepting applications for the Burren Programme, one of the flagship projects under the proposed new Locally-Led Measure for the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020.
“The Burren Programme is targeted at farmers with Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) land and other species-rich grazed habitats in the Burren. This programme focuses specifically on the conservation of that unique farming landscape in Clare and Galway.
“Although the scheme has not yet been formally approved, Minister Coveney has decided to begin accepting applications so that contracts can be initiated from 1st January 2016, once formal approval is received. Contracts will be for five years and the Minister confirmed that further tranches will open in 2016 and 2017, also offering full five year contracts.
“The application form is being kept simple and consists of just two pages with three simple questions which the farmer can easily complete. As the Locally-Led schemes are a new departure, Minister Coveney has ensured that the application process is as straight-forward as possible.
“This programme will build on the success and experience of similar schemes for the Burren piloted under the Burren LIFE Project (2005-2010) and the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (2011-2015).
“Work is also progressing on identifying other schemes which will be included under the Locally Led umbrella later in 2016 and into 2017. Freshwater pearl mussel catchments, hen harrier habitats and peat uplands have all been identified as possible areas where supports may be provided.
“County Clare is a unique county with stunning scenery and a completely individual landscape. The Government’s plan to keep the recovery going in Clare is centred on harnessing these strengths. However farmers working in the Burren and on peatlands face additional challenges and I very much welcome the new Burren Programme which will assist them in their work.
“The application form and an accompanying information note on the proposed new Burren Programme are now available on the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/locallyledschemes/. Closing date for applications is 5pm on the 21st December 2015.”