Under the current Rural Development Regulation (and subsequent amendments under the Omnibus Regulation) Member States were required to change the approach to the designation of land under the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme. Previously my Department had been identifying eligible areas using a range of socio economic indicators such as family farm income, population density, percentage of working population engaged in agriculture, and stocking density. From 2019, eligible areas must instead be designated using a defined list of bio-physical criteria such as slope, soil texture, soil rooting depth, soil moisture and drainage.
Further to the completion of the redesignation process, my Department wrote to all farmers holding ANC lands advising them of the status of these lands under the 2019 ANC scheme and advised of their right to appeal this position. The appeals process, overseen by an independently chaired Appeals Committee, is in place for any farmer who wishes to further appeal the status of a particular townland in the 2019 ANC scheme. Where a farmer notified my Department of their wish to make such an appeal, they have been provided with the relevant information in relation to the data underpinning the status of the townland in order that an appeal can be based on full information.
My Department has received and replied to Notifications of Appeal in respect of 759 individual townlands, of which 266 were in County Wexford. To date, full appeals in respect of some 160 townlands have been made to the Appeals Committee, of which 38 are in County Wexford.
The Independent Appeal Committee has commenced work on processing the appeals received.