In most cases where lands are included in a SAC, SPA or NHA, farmers will not have to change their farming methods; it is more likely that farmers will be requested to carry on in the traditional way. Under the conditions of cross compliance, farmers in receipt of single farm payments must adhere to Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) and abide by the Birds and Habitats Directives, in addition to other Statutory Management Requirements.
In limited situations, however, changes to farming activities may be necessary. The Department consults with farmers and advises them on the appropriate changes that may need to be made. Where a farmer is required to take particular action to protect the wildlife interest of the designated site and where this exceeds the requirements of cross compliance, compensation may be payable, either through the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) or the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme. In either scheme, a farm plan will be prepared and agreed.
AEOS Farm Plan Scheme
NPWS Farm Plan Scheme (of limited availability due to budgetary constraints)
Cessation of Turf Cutting Scheme
REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) (no longer available to new applicants though still in existence for those applicants who applied before mid 2009)
It is the responsibility of NPWS to see that designated sites are protected from significant damage. Where a landowner is considering making changes on his farm that might affect the wildlife habitat in a designated area, he must consult the local conservation ranger beforehand. 'Notifiable Actions' and 'Activities Requiring Consent' are activities or operations that might be damaging and can only be carried out with the permission of the Minister. More information is available here.