Irwin concern over map mistakes
DUP Assemblyman and Stormont Agriculture Committee member William Irwin has raised concerns with the agriculture minister over mistakes in farm maps issued to orchard owners in his Newry and Armagh constituency.
Mr Irwin who lives in the heart of apple growing country near Loughgall said he was shocked to discover that orchards had been shaded as shrub land on the new updated maps issued recently by DARD.
The MLA stated: “I was totally shocked when I was contacted with the information that orchards in the area had been shaded as shrub land, especially given orchards are eligible under the Single Farm Payment rules. It is very concerning to note this error after the department has spent £200 million on correcting the farm mapping system and I am very worried that this incident may only be the tip of the iceberg.
“I had the opportunity in the assembly chamber to question the minister directly on this matter during Minister’s questions and the DARD minister requested that apple growers contact the department immediately if they find any portion of their orchards shaded as shrub land.”
He said: “I would urge apple growers to immediately assess their new maps if they have received them and ensure that they are not shaded as shrub land. If they find areas shaded then they should contact either DARD directly or my offices on 02838 870500 for advice and assistance.
“The minister is now aware of this issue and it is important that growers check their maps now and alert the department to any inaccuracies. There are many growers in my locality here in Loughgall and hopefully this problem can be resolved as soon as possible by the department.”
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