Under the EU Regulations governing the Agri-environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payments for the AEOS 2010 scheme in respect of 2010 are nearly completed. A total of €6.756m has been paid to date. A further €22,039m has been paid out in respect of the 2011 scheme year. All applications which have cleared the administrative checking process have been paid. The majority of issues arising on unpaid cases relate to invalid capital investment claim details submitted by applicants. Officials in my Department are clearing outstanding queries on an ongoing basis and payments will continue as outstanding queries are resolved.
Payments under the AEOS 2011 scheme are also subject to the comprehensive administrative checks. This process has now been completed and I expect payments to commence shortly. Every effort is being made to ensure that participants receive their initial payments under the scheme as quickly as possible. In the event of any queries arising from these checks my Department will be in direct contact with the applicants concerned as soon as possible. I am, of course, conscious of the importance of such payments to the farming sector and accordingly I have allocated additional resources to ensuring that outstanding payments issue as soon as possible. Payment in respect of the 2012 scheme years will commence later in the year.