OFF-SHORE islands are to be designated as Areas of Specific Constraint under the new scheme which replaces the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme under the new Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020.
The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and, announcing it, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said: ‘In keeping with my commitment to island farmers, I am delighted to announce the introduction of a special payment, under the ANC Scheme, for farmers, who are farming island land. This payment is in recognition of the challenges that those farmers have to cope with on a day to day basis in going about their normal farming business’.
The island payment will be payable on land situated on off-shore islands (i.e. where no permanent access by road or bridge exists), where an agricultural activity is being carried out by the applicant. In excess of 900 island farmers will benefit under this measure, all of whom will be contacted, in writing, by the Department.
Mr Coveney said ‘the maintenance of farming on Ireland’s off-shore islands, including the maintenance of traditional extensive farming methods, is vital in terms of the delivery of environmental benefits via the avoidance of land abandonment and the preservation of habitats’.
The Minister added ‘the new scheme, in arresting and reversing this decline, would support the maintenance of the natural landscapes and scenic beauty of Ireland’s off-shore islands and ensure that island communities can benefit both from farming and from Ireland’s tourism industry.’
The closing date for applications will be May 29th, 2015 and he urged all eligible farmers to take account of the terms and conditions of the new scheme, a copy of which is issuing to all applicants, and ensure their applications are submitted correctly and on time.