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DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced that digital assistance support will be available in the DAERA Direct offices on a strict appointment only basis to assist with applications to Tranche 4 of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS), which will open for applications from 17 August – 11 September 2020.

Like other government buildings, the DAERA Direct Offices closed to the public in late March to facilitate the implementation of PHA guidance on Covid-19 in relation to social distancing measures and to help reduce the transmission of the virus. However, back office processing continued and customers have been able to conduct their business online, by telephony or by depositing papers in a secure post box at their local office.

Stressing that his announcement did not mean the DAERA Direct offices were returning to pre-Covid-19 opening arrangements, the Minister said: “To support the EFS application process and in line with the Executive’s recovery plans I have agreed to the DAERA Direct offices providing digital assistance, where it is deemed essential, on a strict appointment only basis.

“This service relates solely to the EFS scheme and customers should continue to conduct their other business online, by telephony or by delivering documents to the post box at their local office. I am satisfied that this very limited re-opening can be managed within the existing PHA guidelines.”

EFS digital assistance appointments are available from 17 August to 11 September and can be made by contacting your local DAERA Direct office on 0300 200 7848.