Scheme will help boost tree planting

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The new Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) will act to boost tree planting levels on farms across Northern Ireland, according to Premier Woodlands’ managing director John Hetherington.

“I welcome the simplicity of the new support measure plus the fact that farmers will be able to avail of £100m in grant aid over the next five years.

“In contrast to the former Countryside Management Scheme, which entailed the development of a comprehensive farm development plan, farmers can now choose to focus on specific areas of their holdings only.

“Under the new measure, applicants can opt for a minimum of one or up to four options from a list of environmental improvement activities.”

Hetherington confirmed that the establishment of native woodlands is one of the EFS options.

“Planting areas of between 0.1ha and 4.9ha will be covered under the new scheme. The grant available will cover most of the relevant establishment costs in year 1 plus most of the annual maintenance costs incurred between Years 2 and 5.

“Farmers will be able to draw down single payment on the areas planted out.”

The Premier Woodlands’ representative believes the new scheme will act to significantly boost tree planting rates in Northern Ireland.

“It represents a genuine boost for the private woodland sector,” he added.

“There are areas on every farm that will benefit from tree planting. The funding available through the new support measure will help make this a reality for most farmers. This is good news for farmers and for the environment.”

Hetherington also confirmed that EFS applications will only be accepted on-line.

“We are already receiving a number of enquiries regarding the scope of the scheme. And this is purely on the back of the initial publicity it has received. So there is real interest on the part of landowners to make the new scheme work on their behalf. The official opening date for applications will be later this month.

“Premier Woodlands’ staff will be available to submit applications on behalf of clients.”

For further information, contact Frances on Premier Woodlands on (028) 7963 4236.