IFA held a public meeting on Hen Harrier issues for farmers on Thursday May 22nd in the Charleville Park Hotel, Co. Cork. Over 220 farmers from designated Hen Harrier areas attended the meeting. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) made presentations on the night.
IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Michael Fleming said ‘We requested this meeting to give our members the opportunity to raise their concerns with the relevant Departments who were invited to the meeting. The take home message was loud and clear – either the designation is removed or the farmers are adequately compensated for this burden on their land’.
Farmers in Hen Harrier designated areas are faced with serious constraints as their land is devalued in some cases to €1000/acre. The NPWS stated that there is currently a Threat Response Plan being compiled in order to deal with this issue, however it will be 12months before a draft version is available for consultation. IFA insisted that there is an interim system put in place until this is developed.
The previous compensation package, which only some farmers in designated areas were approved for, was suspended in 2010 and now almost 5 years on there is still no development. Michael Fleming said ‘it is completely unacceptable that the responsible Departments have not come up with a plan to deal with this by now. The livelihoods of our farmer members are at risk and a solution must be sought immediately’.
‘A delegation from IFA will meet with Minister Jimmy Deenihan again on this matter and negotiate a fair deal for those in designated Hen Harrier areas’, Mr Fleming concluded