Farmers with more than 0.5ha of commonage or Natura 2000 designated lands will be granted priority access into the Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).

Higher payment rates will be issued to those with larger areas of commonage, as well as hill areas with a higher diversity of plants.

To be considered for priority access, those farming on a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or a Special Protected Area (SPA) must sign up to either the low-input grassland or extensively grazed pasture actions.

For designated tillage lands, farmers must choose one of the unharvested cereal headlands, winter bird food or environmental management of arable fallow actions to be granted entry into the scheme.

Farmers with commonage can apply through the general entry route if they are located outside a co-operation project zone but all commonage owned by an applicant must be entered into the scheme.

Plots of commonage larger than 10ha in size entered through either the co-operation or general streams will receive a minimum payment of €50/ha for the first 20ha regardless of score, with the maximum payment for high nature value commonage to reach €220/ha.

Flat rate

A flat rate of €120/ha will issue to commonage under 10ha. A commonage plan must be submitted by each farmer on the commonage detailing what restoration actions will be carried out, as well as the location in which theses actions will be undertaken.

In situations where a farmer may already be engaging with a European Innovation Partnership or LIFE project, the Department of Agriculture has said that existing measures or requirements will take precedence over those set out in ACRES.