IFA criticises delay in hen harrier scheme

The IFA is criticising the lack of progress in getting the hen harrier scheme up and running.

The European Innovation Partnership Locally Led Hen Harrier Project aims to conserve the hen harrier in six specific areas across the country, including an area spanning counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork.

The IFA says farmers must benefit from the scheme, and it needs to address the restrictions that Special Protection Area designation has on farmers’ land and incomes.

The target area in Kerry is in the Stacks Mountain; this Special Protection Area from Stack’s to the Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills, and Mount Eagle takes in a third of the land in this new project.

This scheme is targeting a total of 2,000 participants; 1,643 of those are in this local SPA; the scheme is voluntary and farmers will be invited to join.

A dedicated management team has been recruited to develop tailored solutions for each of the target areas to respond to the declining conservation status of the hen harrier.

IFA National Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne says the Minister must make the scheme a priority, as it’s six months since a project team was appointed to devise it.

Mr Dunne says a significant amount of the €25 million allocation to the Hen Harrier Locally-Led Scheme must benefit farmers, and address the restrictions that SPA designation has on farmers’ land and incomes.