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Coveney Announces the Introduction of Special Payments for Island Farming under the 2015 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme

Minister Coveney has announced the designation of off-shore islands as Areas of Specific Constraint under the new Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme which replaces the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme under the new Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The Minister said “In keeping with my commitment to Island farmers, I am delighted to announce the introduction of a special payment, under the ANC Scheme, for farmers, who are farming island land. This payment is in recognition of the challenges that those farmers have to cope with on a day to day basis in going about their normal farming business”.

The island payment will be payable on land situated on off-shore islands (i.e. where no permanent access by road or bridge exists) where an agricultural activity is being carried out by the applicant. In excess of 900 island farmers will benefit under this measure, all of whom will be contacted, in writing, by the Department.

Minister Coveney said “the maintenance of farming on Ireland’s off-shore islands, including the maintenance of traditional extensive farming methods, is vital in terms of the delivery of environmental benefits via the avoidance of land abandonment and the preservation of habitats”. This has been recognised, for example, in the Heritage Council’s report on High Nature Value Farming in Ireland, which refers to the traditional agricultural landscape in the Aran Islands as presenting a “mosaic of habitats, characterised by the network of dry stone walls and rocky, wildflower-rich fields.”  This report also highlighted a decline in traditional farm practices and potential detrimental effects arising from scrub encroachment or abandonment.

The Minister added “the new Scheme, in arresting and reversing this decline, would support the maintenance of the natural landscapes and scenic beauty of Ireland’s off-shore islands and ensure that island communities can benefit both from farming and from Ireland’s tourism industry.” 

In conclusion, the Minister repeated that the closing date for applications will be 29 May, 2015 and urged all eligible farmers to take account of the Terms and Conditions of the new Scheme, a copy of which is issuing to all applicants, and ensure their applications are submitted correctly and on time.


Notes for editors


Payment Rates

(per hectare)

Payable Area


Up to 20 hectares


20 to 34 hectares

€ 70.00

34 to 40 hectares

View Press Release as a PDF:  DAFMPR 82/2015 (pdf 550Kb) 



Date Released: 07 May 2015