The scheme has a budget of €20,000,000 which will provide funding for an estimated 6,000 participants. If the scheme is oversubscribed priority will be given to the following groups.
1) Farmers with more than 0.5 Ha of SAC or SPA land.
2) Farmers with more than 0.5 Ha of Commonage.
If places remain after all of these applicants have been accommodated they will issue to farmers who had been in REPS. Successful applicants will receive a start date probably in April of 2013; their contract period will run until the 31/12/2017. In the event that an alternative scheme becomes available in 2014 applicants will be able to leave AEOS without penalty to join a new scheme. This commitment by the Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is important as it ensures that farmers are not trapped in a scheme if a more suitable alternative exists.
The application for payment each year will be that years SPS application and payments should issue in November/ December each year.
The options themselves are similar to previous schemes; the biggest change is in the treatment of commonage. Planners will have to access a commonage database to obtain maximum and minimum stocking densities for each commonage and apply this to the individual farmer based on the size of his share. The requirements for each option are described in scheme specifications which can be downloaded from this website.