The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that the Higher Level of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS (H)) will open for applications on Monday 15 April 2019.
EFS applications must be submitted online during the four weeks application window.
The EFS (H) is a voluntary scheme which aims to bring environmentally important sites under ‘favourable management’ for environmental benefit.
The on-line application will show whether or not the farm business has any designated land or priority habitats or species. If it does, the applicant simply makes an application for the land they will have control of for the five year duration of the scheme.
The application will be assessed by DAERA and, if successful, applicants will be invited to submit a site-specific Remedial Management Plan for the land. Site-specific Remedial Management Plans are drawn up by external planners.
The cost can be fully or partially refunded by DAERA. In addition to annual management payments for the area under agreement, other items to help manage or enhance the area can also be funded.
Successful applicants will be offered an agreement, based on site-specific Remedial Management Plan. The work to be undertaken aims to bring the EFS Higher (H) land under ‘favourable management’ conditions and so deliver a range of environmental benefits.
How do I apply?
The application can only be made on-line. The Government Gateway Service to access DAERA Online Services was updated in November 2018.
Farm Businesses have been successfully accessing DAERA Online Services since the update. However, if you have not accessed DAERA Online Services recently, it is recommended that you do so as soon as possible to ensure your credentials are still valid.
· Log on to DAERA Online Services: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/services/daera-online-services
If you need some help, you have plenty of options:
EFS Advisory Service
During the application period, you can call the EFS Advisory Service on 0300 200 7848 (Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm) or use the convenient webchat facility within the application.
You can also email on email@example.com. Advisors will be ready to help you to complete your online application.
Alternatively, you can use the services of an agent or trusted person that you know such as a relative or friend, who can be given online access to complete the application on your behalf. You will need to complete a form to nominate an authorised person if you have not previously done so. You can download this form from the DAERA website, request one from a DAERA Direct Office or your agent may provide this for you.
Whichever help service you choose to use, we recommend that you take action early to secure the help that you need as demand may be high throughout the application period.
· Environmental Farming Scheme (Higher) Options: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/environmental-farming-scheme-higher-options