Under the current Rural Development Regulation (and subsequent amendments under the Omnibus Regulation), EU Member States were required to change their approach to the designation of land under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) 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.
An appeals process is in place for any farmer who wishes to appeal a decision regarding the status of a particular townland in the 2019 ANC scheme. I have appointed an independent Appeals Committee comprising three people chaired by Mr. Padraig Gibbons. The committee has been given the task of handling ANC appeals from all over the country and I am satisfied that it has the relevant technical expertise to carry out this task.
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 advising farmers of their right to appeal this position. Where a farmer has 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 a full appeal to the Appeals Committee can be based on full information.
My Department has received and replied to Notifications of Appeal in respect of 759 individual townlands, of which 271 were in County Wexford. To date, full appeals in respect of some 281 townlands have been made to the Appeals Committee, of which 69 are in County Wexford.
The Independent Appeal Committee is currently processing the appeals received.