The Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) provided financial support to help farmers conserve and promote biodiversity, encourage water quality management and combat climate change. It was introduced in 2010 and closed to new entrants in 2012 before the introduction of the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).
Who was eligible
The scheme was structured to give priority to farmers with vulnerable lands, for example areas that include sensitive landscapes, water areas or bird habitats. However, proposals were also accepted from farmers who took specific steps such as reducing emissions and protecting bio-diversity.
Selection for admission to the scheme was prioritised using pre-determined criteria. Applications on holdings that did not include environmentally sensitive Natura land
or commonage were ranked initially according to the type of steps the applicant proposed.
Further selection was applied in the following order:
location of farms in less favoured areas
previous participation in Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS)
Farm size - favouring smaller holdings
Applicants were required to identify their primary objective such as halting biodiversity decline, maintaining water quality or combating climate change. They then selected complimentary actions such as tree planting or using new technology for slurry spreading. All contracts ran for at least five years. Applicants had to comply with the conditions of the scheme
Rate of payment
In 2012, the final year for new applications, the maximum payment to any participant was €4,000 each calendar year. Payments to each farmer depended on the steps taken and the size of their farm. For example the rate for maintaining species rich grassland was €314 per hectare per calendar year. The full details of the payment system were outlined in the conditions of the scheme
The closing date for applications was 30 November 2012. Annual claims for payment were made under the Single Payment Scheme and later the Basic Payment Scheme for the duration of the five-year contract.