Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
231. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a specific region (details supplied) could be used to pilot the relaunch of the national farm plan scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46757/19]
The area to which the Deputy refers is one of the most important nature conservation areas in Ireland. This is reflected in designation of much of the area as a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area, to protect the diversity of the habitats and species that exist there.
I acknowledge that it is important that the custodians of this area are supported through relevant schemes to manage the environment in an appropriate and targeted way. The Farm Plan Scheme administered by the National Parks & Wildlife Service of my Department offers the opportunity to work with landowners in a proactive way and to go above and beyond the statutory requirements.
While I have doubled the funding of the Scheme in 2020 to €1 million, there is naturally a limit to the resources available for the Scheme. There are numerous farms across Ireland that would benefit from a farm plan, including areas outside the area to which the Deputy refers. Therefore my Department will need to ensure that entry to the Scheme is structured and transparent and to that end specific selection criteria will need to be established. These criteria will be established in advance of the development of new plans that will proceed under budget 2020.