IFA President Tim Cullinan said the new Code of Best Practice for national and regional greenway projects negotiated by IFA is an important safeguard for farmers whose land is on greenway routes.
“A key part of the Code is a new Sustainability Payment (once-off goodwill payment for early-sign on and co-operation) to each farmer, on top of the full value of any land acquired for a greenway as part of a voluntary land acquisition agreement process,” he said.
“The farmer’s statutory rights are fully protected if they participate in this voluntary process. They still have full access to mediation and arbitration if there is no agreement on the valuation of the land and compensation for other impacts on their farms,” he said.
“IFA and farmers understand the importance of greenways to local communities. However, they can impact significantly on farmers whose lands are along the route. This Code allows for a clear engagement process to minimise the impact and disruption to individual farms, along with a sustainability payment to farmers for their co-operation with the project during the construction phase,” he said.
IFA National Environment Chairman Paul O Brien said the new Code is very comprehensive and provides detailed information on the procedures involved and the rights of farmers and landowners who may be impacted.
Paul O Brien said an essential aspect of the new code is the use of Voluntary Land Acquisition Agreements, in order to avoid the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), where private lands may need to be acquired to complete a greenway project.
“A key element for the success of the Voluntary Land Acquisition Agreement approach is a new additional ex-gratia Greenway Sustainability payment, which will be paid to farmers in addition to the payment for land purchase and the other impacts of the greenway on their farm,” he said.
The sustainability payment rates are based on 5 band lengths as per the attached table, with payments ranging from €67.50 per linear metre in band 1 to €40.90 in band 5. (See table below).
The Code of Practice explains the procedures involved, including consultation; planning; and design and construction. In addition, it outlines how farmers can engage in the process and sets out how the Voluntary Land Acquisition Process will work.
As well as dealing with the important area of accommodation works, the Code also explains the services available to the farmer including an agronomist/property advisor to assist in submitting and negotiating a compensation claim on behalf of the farmer.
Paul O Brien said any farmer that uses a Voluntary Land Acquisition Agreement as part of the Code and receives the additional sustainability payment is also fully protected in terms of their statutory rights under the law, including the right to arbitration.
While the new Code specifically applies to national and regional greenway projects as set out in the Government’s Greenway strategy, Paul O Brien said in practice this Code and associated sustainability payment should be the standard for all projects across the country.
Paul O Brien said that project promoters must work closely with farmers and landowners in a proactive manner that is sensitive to their needs, that maximises their support for, and goodwill towards, any proposed greenway.
He said the new Code of Best Practice and sustainability payment will assist this process and must be fully respected by project promoters.
The Code was approved by IFA’s National Environment Committee earlier this week and by IFA National Council at its meeting on Tuesday.