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Gildernew confirms Countryside Management Scheme roll-out plans

31 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has outlined how the new Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) is operating on the ground.

Confirming that farm visits for the Countryside Management Scheme are well underway, the minister said:

"Although good progress continues to be made with CMS farm visits, unfortunately due to budgetary constraints, not all applicants will be accepted into the scheme this year. Following prioritisation based on land designations and environmental benefit, I anticipate that up to 1,300 applicants will proceed to agreement stage in early 2009.

"Over the next few days, my department will write to all applicants to let them know whether or not their application will be progressed this year. When the scheme opens in 2009, those applicants who were initially unsuccessful will be contacted by DARD. This will save them having to submit new applications - hence reducing bureaucracy and improving customer service.

"In the meantime I urge applicants to be patient, as the interest and enthusiasm for the new scheme has been tremendous and I wish to thank everyone who has made the effort to apply." ENDS

Note to Editors

The new Countryside Management Scheme is an important element of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, funded under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The scheme aims to improve biodiversity and water quality, mitigate climate change, improve soil quality and avoid marginalisation and abandonment of land. The target is to have 18,000 participants in agri-environment schemes by 2013.

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