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Gildernew announces March opening date for Countryside Management Scheme

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has confirmed that the 2010 application period for the Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) will be from 10 March to 31 March 2010.

Confirming the March opening date, the Minister said: "The CMS has been enhancing our countryside and benefiting wildlife for a number of years now. Farmers and landowners will have the opportunity to apply for this popular scheme when it re-opens for applications on 10 March. I will announce my plans for the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) later this year.

"The application process will again be paperless and a quick phone call, fax, e-mail or visit to a DARD Regional office is all that is needed. However anyone who had an eligible application during the previous period does not need to take any further action, as their application will be automatically resubmitted. They will receive a letter confirming this shortly.

“These existing applications, together with eligible applications received in March 2010 will be prioritised using a set of environmental criteria. These criteria were developed in consultation with the Environmental Sub-group of the Rural Development Programme Monitoring Committee. We will progress priority applications based on the availability of funding. I would strongly encourage all farmers and landowners who are interested in the Scheme to apply in March 2010."

She added: "Following this application period, my staff will work with successful applicants to develop a habitat management and environmental enhancement plan for their farm."

In conclusion, the Minister said: "Farmers have been doing a great job managing our countryside for many years through the CMS, with around 13,000 participants here. I appreciate the contribution of all of the farmers and landowners who already make a difference to the countryside through agri-environment schemes.

"I look forward to increasing the number of farmers availing of this Rural Development Programme funding and making a difference to the area of agricultural land under environmental enhancement agreement."

Notes to editors:

1. Under Axis II of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, the Agri-environment Measure 2.2 consists of two key elements – the new and improved Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) and the new Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).

2. £78million has already been paid to agri-environment scheme participants under the current Rural Development Programme.

3. The scheme application process will be paperless to simplify the process.

4. All media queries to DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.