4 June 1999

Environmental scheme strikes chord in Wales

ALMOST 1400 applications have been received for Tir Gofal, the new all-Wales agri-environment scheme.

Information provided on the application forms will be assessed using a computer to identify which farms offer the most environmental benefit, and can be accepted without exceeding £12.4m budget available for the first three-year period. Provisionally accepted farms will be inspected over the summer and successful units will be signed up in the autumn.

First round

Applicants who fail to be selected for the first round of contracts will be able to try again next year.

When the scheme was launched the forecast was that about 1800 farms would get management agreements during the three years.

The new scheme replaces Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme agreements and Tir Cymen management contracts, though existing ones will run their course. It offers a range of payments to farmers who conserve wildlife and habitats, create new habitats, protect landscapes – including historical features – and provide new access to farmed land.

Whole farm area payments will be supplemented by rewards for obligatory and optional habitat and special feature management, footpaths and capital works. &#42