In a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today on the Peatland Climate Action Scheme, IFA President Tim Cullinan outlined the key commitments IFA is seeking on behalf of its members from Bord Na Móna.
The IFA President also highlighted the concerns that farmers whose land is adjacent to the scheme have.
He said, “At a recent IFA meeting on this topic, 200 people attended to voice their concerns about aspects of the project. They also highlighted the lack of consultation and the absence of opportunities for local stakeholders to input into the process.”
“The majority of the feedback received falls under the following headings; flooding concerns, future ownership questions, property devaluation, health and safety and turf cutting. IFA has forwarded a comprehensive list of questions to Bord Na Móna to get a clear position on all of these issues.”
“The scale of the project is enormous, and the timeline for implementation short, particularly in light of the current COVID-19 restrictions. Bord Na Móna chose to launch this scheme during a pandemic, but they will not be allowed to use this as an excuse not to consult,” he said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said, “We welcome the establishment of a joint working group between IFA and Bord Na Móna. The first meeting was constructive, but much work remains to be done by Bord Na Móna if it is to alleviate farmers’ concerns and ensure this project’s success”.
Measures sought by IFA include:
- Proper consultation with local landowners, community stakeholders and other affected parties.
- Establish a local working group for the bogs proposed under the scheme to keep local farmers informed in the planning and development processes.
- A detailed site-specific hydrological assessment should be conducted for the farmlands surrounding bogs before work is carried out.
- Conduct a health and safety assessment of surrounding farmland and roadways for each specific site.
- Bord na Móna to engage with those with Turbary rights to ensure issues around private turf cutting are resolved before moving forward with bog rehabilitation plans.
- Bord na Móna to consider the impact on property value to surrounding land and communicate with these landowners.
- A long-term plan needs to be published, covering different Bord na Móna future ownership scenarios and how maintenance responsibility will be considered.