While in Shannon Harbour, County Offaly yesterday to launch a poster campaign instructing National Parks & Wildlife and Birdwatch Ireland to keep off farmers’ land, the IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said the new Government must address long-standing issues surrounding land designation.
In a clear warning to the new Government, Jer Bergin said the imposition of environmental designations on farmers’ land has resulted in significant restrictions on farming activities and other developments. “When designations were first imposed, commitments were given that compensation would be paid where farmers suffered losses. However, in recent years these commitments have not been honoured.”
Jer Bergin said the new Government will have to honour the existing agreement for the implementation of SACs and other designations, including proper consultation, a workable and truly independent appeals system, and full compensation to take account of devaluation of land, where restrictions are imposed.
IFA SAC Project Team Chairman Tom Turley said the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme will have to be available to all farmers who have a designation imposed on their land and the existing agreement on SACs has to be honoured.
In relation to flooding, Tom Turley said the refusal of NPWS to allow remedial works to take place on rivers and turloughs has contributed to severe flooding in certain areas. He said, “Dredging and clearing of rivers will have to take place to alleviate the problems associated with flooding. NPWS cannot be allowed to stand in the way of this”.
Tom Turley also pointed out that farmers who wish to plant forestry in areas designated for the hen harrier must be allowed to maximise the potential of their land. Also, existing restrictions that have impeded improvement and other development works in designated areas must be relaxed as they are adding to economic decline in rural areas.