It will be 2018 before farmers can expect payments from a locally led hen harrier agri-environmental scheme.
Up to 3,800 farmers have their lands designated as protected habitats for certain bird species such as the hen harrier.
As a result, they are restricted in their farming practices, and are usually not allowed land uses such as afforestation or wind farms.
The Locally Led Hen Harrier Project will target conservation of the bird in six areas which contain about 45% of the national hen harrier population.
This scheme will target up to 2,000 landowners.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said a consultant to design the scheme has been identified, but the contract has not yet been signed.
“It is envisaged that applicants will be invited into such a scheme in 2017, with payment in 2018. It would stretch us to get a scheme up and running, with applications in, validated and paid, in the time we have left, so payment is in 2018,” the Minister told Fianna Fail TD for Tipperary, Jackie Cahill, in the Dail.
Mr Creed indicated details of the scheme will be published before the end of 2017.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved