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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020

Dublin firm to help 'spy' on farmers

Icon Group will use satellite technology to spot any Northern Irish farmers flouting subsidy rules.

There's not always something this exciting to spy on a farm in Northern Ireland...
There's not always something this exciting to spy on a farm in Northern Ireland...
Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE NORTH’S DEPARTMENT of Agriculture has employed a Dublin company to spy on Northern Irish farmers who might be flouting rules on European subsidies.

The ICON group will carry out on-the-spot checks using satellite technology called ‘Remote Sensing’ to examine whether farmers have told the truth about how much of their land is devoted to actual farmland.

“Adopting this technology as part of our inspection regime will have the potential to reduce the number of physical inspections conducted at present,” said Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill. She added:

This in turn will help to reduce the administrative  burden placed on farm businesses.

The European Commission has criticised Belfast’s Department of Agriculture and farmers, some of whom claimed that sheds and scrubland were agricutural land.

Farmers’ groups have given a broad welcome to the decision, as they said  many farmers had made their submissions based on old maps, which may have caused confusion.

“If it is going to speed up the payments process and get payments to the farmers on time, we’re all for it,” a spokeswoman at the Ulster Farmer’s Union told

CAP reforms propose new focus on ‘green’ farming’>

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