The Environmental Farming Scheme in the North is due to open at the end of February, while a number of information evenings have been organised.

People thinking of applying to the scheme are being advised to attend one of these information meetings, which will begin on February 1.

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIIveen, announced the series of information meetings ahead of the opening of the scheme.

“The multi-million pound Environmental Farming Scheme is an important part of our agricultural agenda.

The aim of the scheme is to restore, preserve and enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and mitigate climate change.

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

  • 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.

Applications must be made online

Applications to the scheme can only be made online, according to Minister McIIveen.

“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.

“These DAERA awareness events, which begin on February 1, 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 give applicants the opportunity to ask questions in advance of the opening,” the Minister said.

The information meetings are scheduled to take place throughout the day, with sessions starting at 1.30pm, 4.00pm and 7.00pm.

Information Meetings

Meetings will take place across Northern Ireland, including:

  • February 1, CAFRE, Loughry Campus, Co. Tyrone.
  • February 3, CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus, Co. Fermanagh.
  • February 6, The Armagh City Hotel, Co. Armagh.
  • February 8, Roe Park Resort, Limavady, Co. Londonderry.
  • February 9, Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch, Co. Down.
  • February 13, CAFRE, Greenmount Campus, Co. Antrim.
  • February 17, Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

Full details of the scheme, as well as information on how to apply, will be publicised on the DAERA website in advance of the scheme opening.