New Hen Harrier scheme due

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Galway East TD Paul Connaughton is hopeful that a new compensation scheme for farmers with hen harrier designation will be signed off by the European Commission in coming weeks.

‘It is my understanding after meeting with Commissioner Phil Hogan a number of weeks ago and meeting Minister Coveney last week that a new deal for farmers with land designated as Hen Harrier status is very close to being announced and will be finalised and approved by the EU Commission and announced in coming weeks.

‘A new scheme is long overdue as landowners have had no access to a scheme for the past five years and the uses to which their land can be put have been severely restricted by the hen harrier designation. The restriction on forestry is particularly punitive for farmers and this is something that should be looked at.

‘At a meeting in Ballinakill, Co. Galway some months ago, those present heard first-hand how this designation is impacting on local farmers. I understand that a multi-annual deal with will be worth in the region of €25 to €35 million for farmers and this will be an important income stream for many farmers in south Galway whose farming activities have been severely hampered by this designation.

‘A new Hen Harrier scheme is long overdue and many farmers in south Galway are anxiously awaiting details of the new scheme and how it will affect their farming operations. I hope that the European Commission will give the go-ahead for the new scheme as soon as possible so that farmers in south Galway will have clarity on important land use issues.’