The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) Farm Plan Scheme has seen poor participation levels as a result of it being unappealing to most farmers, Independent Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan has said.
“The relatively low take-up rate among farmers or landowners for participation in the NPWS [scheme] would suggest that the scheme is fundamentally unappealing to the vast majority of them.
"I do not expect these numbers to improve given the regulatory burden already attached to existing statutory habitat requirements,” she said.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that in 2021, he almost doubled the funding available to the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme to €1.89m.
He also expects that further farm plans will be implemented in 2022.
In response to a parliamentary question from Deputy Nolan, he said: "Those with lands included in designated sites are prioritised for entry.
"My Department recognises the positive role that appropriate farming can play in addressing the biodiversity decline that has been witnessed in recent decades.
"The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme operates nationally, supporting various habitats and species by working proactively with landowners to go above and beyond their statutory requirements."
When asked if provision is being made or will be made for compensation to be provided to farmers or landowners impacted by having land or property designated under the NPWS scheme, he said: "The Farm Plan Scheme is not a compensation scheme for abiding by European or national nature legislation."
Minister Noonan also announced that the additional plans are currently in development.