Some 500 farmers are expected to get the go ahead for environmental farming projects thanks to an estimated £14 million funding package, Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots has announced.

Under the fifth round of DAERA’s Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS), successful applicants can expect to receive their online offer of an agreement in the next couple of weeks.

The Environmental Farming Scheme is an important but voluntary scheme which supports farmers to undertake measures which help climate change mitigation, maintain biodiversity and improve water quality through a range of options.

“It is funded under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme and this £14million scheme is on top of the £63million already committed through EFS to date.

“We are confident that most farmers who applied for EFS Wider Tranche 5, and provided the required information, can expect to receive their offers before the Christmas holidays.

"They will then have 21 days to confirm their acceptance of the five year agreement. The rest will be released in January 2022.

“If you received an agreement offer please log in to DAERA Online Services using your Government Gateway ID and password before the deadline given in the letter to view and accept your agreement.

"Agreements can only be accepted online,” Minister Poots added.