Applicants advised to prepare for scheme

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Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced a series of information events will take place in preparation for the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) which is due to open at the end of February, subject to necessary approvals.

Miss McIlveen said the multi-million pound Environmental Farming Scheme is an important part of their agricultural agenda. The aim of the scheme is to restore, preserve and enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and mitigate climate change.

The scheme will offer participants a five-year agreement to deliver a range of environmental measures and will operate at three levels:

- A higher level, primarily for environmentally designated sites and other priority habitats;

- A wider level to deliver benefits across the countryside, outside of environmentally designated areas;

- A group level to support co-operative action by farmers in specific areas such as a river catchment.

The Minister added: “It is very important to note that applications for this scheme must be made online. Potential applicants who do not already have a Government Gateway account should make arrangements now.”

The Minister has unveiled a series of information events across Northern Ireland and urged potential applicants to begin preparing for the scheme by attending one of the events.

The Minister added: “These DAERA awareness events, which begin on 1 February, will provide important information about the scheme, its requirements and how to apply. I would strongly recommend that anyone considering applying should attend one of these events. They will also give applicants the opportunity to ask questions in advance of the opening.”

The dates are as follows, with sessions starting at 1.30pm, 4.00pm and 7.00pm:

01.02.17 – CAFRE, Loughry Campus, Tyrone

03.02.17 – CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus, Fermanagh

06.02.17 – The Armagh City Hotel, Armagh

08.02.17 – Roe Park Resort, Limavady, Londonderry

09.02.17 - Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch, Down

13.02.17 – CAFRE, Greenmount Campus, Antrim

17.02.17 – Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh, Tyrone

Full details of the scheme, and how to apply, will be publicised on the DAERA website in advance of the EFS opening.