Growing Pains: DAFM Works on IT System for Ash Dieback Support Payments

"DAFM Initiates Development of IT System for Ash Forest Compensation Payments"

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has informed Agriland that the process of developing an IT system to compensate ash forest owners under the new €79.5 million support package is currently underway. As part of this support package, the government has confirmed the introduction of a climate performance action payment of €5,000 per hectare for ash plantation owners who have either replanted or intend to do so under a reconstitution scheme administered by the department.

Despite the announcement, specific details regarding the timeline for these payments had not been previously disclosed. DAFM has now clarified that the payments will only commence once the IT system is fully operational. However, no definitive timeline has been provided for the commencement of these payments to landowners affected by ash dieback. DAFM stated to Agriland, “The development of the necessary IT functionality for the climate action performance payment is currently in progress, and payments will be initiated upon its completion.”

It is estimated that there are approximately 15,897 hectares of ash forests that received grant aid and were planted between 1990 and 2013. A significant portion of these ash forests, over three-quarters, are less than 5 hectares in size. However, approximately 6,000 ash forest owners have yet to submit an application to participate in DAFM’s reconstitution scheme. The department has confirmed that steps are being taken to implement the measures outlined in the latest ash dieback support package.

One of the key actions being pursued is the formation of a task force dedicated to executing an action plan, which has been established as a subcommittee of the new forest strategy consultative committee. The inaugural meeting of this task force is anticipated to occur in the upcoming weeks, signaling progress in addressing the challenges posed by ash dieback.

In a separate development, Claire Kerrane, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, has raised questions regarding the disbursement of the climate performance action payment of €5,000 per hectare to affected ash plantation owners. Deputy Kerrane highlighted that the government did not initially specify that the payment would be distributed in three installments, with the final two installments scheduled for payment four to five years after the initial disbursement.

She expressed concerns that this payment structure might be misleading for landowners who may have anticipated receiving the full €5,000 in a single payment. Deputy Kerrane outlined that the climate performance action payment will consist of an initial payment of €2,500 once a site has been cleared and replanted, followed by a payment of €1,250 at the conclusion of the premium period, and a further payment of €1,250 the subsequent year.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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