Publication - Member State Evaluation |

Evaluation of the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme

The evaluation analysed the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme which is designed to value traditional farm buildings by supporting their restoration for renewed agricultural use.

  • Ireland
  • 2014-2022
  • Socio-economic impacts
Houses at the Coast of Ireland

The GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings (TFB) Grant Scheme was launched in 2016. It is an agri-environmental measure under Measure 7 (Basic services and village renewal in rural areas) of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP).

The Traditional Farm Buildings Scheme was designed to meet several key objectives contributing to Focus Area 4A of the RDP and to do so as a complementary measure to GLAS. Its primary objective is to place a value on traditional farm buildings and other structures by supporting their restoration for renewed agricultural use as part of the normal working life of the farm. The scheme foresaw a range of benefits flowing from this across areas such as landscape, biodiversity, climate change, traditional skills and the rural economy.

The overall evaluation approach was built on four main pillars - research, consultation, analysis and evaluation - and involved defining three principal questions that were agreed upon at the start of the process, which covered all the various detailed evaluation requirements set out for this study. The questions were:

  • Ambition: To what extent have we achieved the ambition of the scheme?
  • Process: Are we doing it the right way?
  • Value: Are we getting value for money?

Among the limitations highlighted, the vast majority of projects started to be sent to the department of agriculture for payment in mid-November, and the fact that the payment process remains a manual one adds considerably to the workload and to the challenge of getting payments made before end-of-year.

Another challenge is the ‘pinch-points’ that appear in the system, notably towards the end of the year when so much work is concentrated on completing projects on the ground to meet the end-of-October deadline, then for inspections, and then for payments by the end of the year.

In addition, the scheme is also quite admin-heavy. This may seem a contradiction in terms that it only has one full-time member of staff, but the assessment process for approvals, which includes two separate screenings followed by an individual assessment by a selection committee, means that, under the best scenario, it will take between 16-20 weeks to move a project from application to approval-to-commence.

The evaluation outlined the main findings as follows:

  • As of the end of 2021, 382 projects have been completed involving repairing 522 traditional buildings and returning these to functional use on the farm. This exceeds the RDP target for the entire programming period with 1 173 habitats identified, over EUR 8 million invested and over four thousand weeks of employment generated.
  • The scheme is extremely positive in terms of its impact, the process and value for money. In every case, the nature of the impact was positive and in five out of the seven areas reviewed, that impact was high.
  • The impact is universally positive across all six capitals (human, intellectual, natural, built, social and financial) and viewed as high for the first four. The impact is seen as moderate for social capital, reflecting the unrealised potential for networking amongst participants. The impact is low for financial for the same reason as it is low for the rural economy – it simply doesn’t have the scale for a more extensive impact.
  • As regards the RDP, the design of the scheme clearly responds to the Focus Area objectives and has proved highly effective in delivering on its aims, well exceeding the target set for the number of traditional buildings restored.
  • In most cases, it seems that the cost of repairing an existing traditional farm building and returning to agricultural use was slightly more expensive than providing the same area through a new build. In addition, repairing the traditional farm building brings benefits for biodiversity and climate change, which do not arise in the case of a new build.
  • The programme mechanics were positive but with room for improvement in some areas. Attention was drawn to the relative efficiency of the scheme and the control of costs, which have remained largely stable over the programming period. Notably, although the timeframe is so restricted, particularly where wildlife surveys are required, the scheme delivered completed projects in less than ten months from the issuing of contracts. Payment is similarly efficient and an excellent operational relationship between the two partners (DAFM and The Heritage Council) was evident.


Crane Bag Consulting


English language

Evaluation of the traditional farm building grant scheme

(PDF – 7.36 MB)