In order to draw down payment in respect of SPS entitlements, applicants must have an “eligible hectare” to accompany each entitlement. In this context, an “eligible hectare” is land that is used for an agricultural activity and includes land used to grow cereals, oilseeds, short rotation coppice, miscanthus sinensis, protein crops, sugar beet, maize, fodder beet, turnips, mangolds, kale, vegetables, potatoes, grass for silage or hay or grazing.
In the case of each hectare declared, the eligible area excludes any areas under roads, paths, buildings, farmyards, woods, scrub, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, sand, areas of bare rock etc.; boglands unfit for grazing; sand/gravel pits, areas used for quarrying; areas fenced off from grazing use, inaccessible areas, land that is not being farmed by the applicant, areas used as sports fields, golf courses, pitch and putt courses, etc.
Some farms, or part of farms, have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s). All of these areas that are considered eligible in line with the requirements as already outline above can be declared for payment under the Single Payment Scheme and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. It is each applicant’s responsibility, however, to establish if any of the eligible land being applied on for payment under the SPS is in a Special Area of Conservation and to be aware of the particular requirements attaching. Applicants requiring further information are advised to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service.