Help may be on the way for farmers affected by the ban on farming in Hen Harrier conservation areas. According to the EU Birds Directive each member state of the European Union is required to classify suitable areas as Special Protection Areas for the protection of endangered species of bird, including the Hen Harrier. As a result of the Directive permission for farming projects including the planting of trees, is only allowed where there is clear scientific evidence that these projects will not adversely impact on the SPA. A large number of Kerry farmers are affected by these restrictions.
In 2010 a voluntary incentivisation scheme to support farmers to improve habitat for the Hen Harrier and various other species that share the same landscape was closed due to budgetary constraints. However there could be help on the way for farmers who missed out on the closed scheme with the launch of the green, low carbon agri-environment scheme. GLAS provides for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions. Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin says he was told by the former Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan that a draft programme for GLAS is currently subject to a public consultation process, and is expected to be opened later this year.