The Department of Agriculture has announced a one-year extension (to 31 March 2025) to the establishment deadline for new hedgerow and tree planting actions for Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) tranche one participants.

The Department explained in a circular sent to ACRES advisers that the decision was taken due to "current market restraints and limited supplies of suitable hedgerow and tree plants".

Pressure had been building for such a move in recent weeks from organisations such as Hedgerows Ireland and Woodlands of Ireland, concerned primarily about the risk of importing whitethorn plants which may be carrying fire blight disease.

This follows the waiving of the necessity for whitethorn planted under ACRES to be of native province in November 2023.

Extension specifics

Participants who are unable to source adequate quantities of suitable hedgerow and tree plants to fulfil their tranche one action commitments have until 31 March 2025 to establish the necessary trees and hedgerows, as set out in the specification document.

The rule applies to the following ACRES actions:

Planting a new hedgerow.

Planting a traditional orchard.

Planting trees in riparian buffer zones.

Tree belts for ammonia capture from farmyards.

Tree planting.

The Department advises participants “that this amendment only applies to the ACRES tranche one specification for the named five actions above. ACRES recommends that participants use this extension wisely in a bid to plan accordingly to meet their planting needs in advance of the next dormant season.”

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