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 later this month.
EFS applications must be submitted online within four weeks of application window opening.
The EFS (H) is a voluntary scheme which aims to improve the management and condition status of agricultural land that is within environmentally designated sites or contains other priority habitats and species.
Successful applicants will be offered an Agreement which will be based on a site-specific Remedial Management Plan (ssRMP) which is drawn up by an external planner. The work to be undertaken under this Agreement will bring the designated site under ‘favourable management’ conditions which will deliver a range of environmental benefits.
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 receive an offer from DAERA to submit a management plan for the area. This is drawn up by qualified planners and 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.
The application can only be made on-line but there are a few steps to take now to prepare so you are ready when the application window opens.
To find out more about the EFS go to: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/environmental-farming-scheme-higher-options
You will need access to DAERA Online Services and you must also have a current email address that you can access. If you already have a Government Gateway ID and Password that you use for APHIS or the Single Application and Maps Service, then you can use the same log in details to access the EFS (H) online application.
If you do not already have access, you will have to apply to register for the new Northern Ireland Identity Assurance (NIDA) via NIdirect. You are strongly advised to start this process now. Do not wait until the application window opens as the registration process involves providing photographic identification documents at your local DAERA Direct Office.
To find out more about accessing DAERA Online services call 028 9442 6699 or go to: http://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/services/daera-online-services
Help is available
DAERA will be hosting a number of EFS (H) Information Workshops throughout the application period. You are strongly advised to attend one of these events to learn more about EFS (H) and find out if it is suitable for your farm business. You will need to book your place, so keep an eye on the DAERA website and the farming press for further details.