The hen harrier project team has announced it can now offer a contract to every farmer who applied to join the programme.
This increased intake could bring the total number of farmers in the hen harrier programme to over 1,600.
Applications will continue to be selected monthly using established criteria, and contract packs will start to issue in mid-April. Applicants should sign and return the contract within one month of receipt.
“We would like to remind participating farmers that they must have their lands assessed by a trained advisor between May 15 and August 15.,” said a spokesperson. “They should contact the hen harrier adviser of their choice as soon as possible to arrange for this assessment.”
Up to 1,000 contracts will be offered to the applicants currently with the hen harrier programme. These farmers manage over 14,000 hectares of land designated for breeding hen harrier.
As a result of this additional intake, the total area of land on which farmers will be recognised and rewarded for the delivery of ecosystem services through the hen harrier programme could increase to 37,000 hectares (65% of the farmland declared for basic payments in the six hen harrier special protection areas).
This planned increase in participants will fully commit the funds available to the project. As a result, the hen harrier programme has closed to new applicants. Applications received after March 29, 2019, will be accepted but will only be considered for a possible future supplementary selection following reviews of 2019 expenditure.