IFA President Tim Cullinan has welcomed the clear and unequivocal commitment from Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan that there are no plans for more land designations.
At an online meeting today with the Minister, the IFA President said the Programme for Government has no mention of more designations and IFA will be holding all parties to account on this.
Farmers from Connemara, west Mayo, the Shannon Callows, south Kerry and south Galway and other areas were part of the delegation.
“IFA made it very clear that where designations exist at the moment, the compensation in place is insufficient,” he said.
Commenting on the Life Nature Project for parts of the west and north west, IFA Hill Chairman Flor McCarthy said that must not lead to increased restrictions on farms and farmers must be allowed to stock their land to its potential. Furthermore, any State land purchases by NPWS to increase national parks will not be accepted.
The Minister assured IFA that he would fully engage with farmers in the areas where this project will apply.
IFA has consistently said where Natura designations are imposed under the EU Habitats or Birds Directive, farmers and landowners must be properly compensated. IFA is opposed to any suggestion of destocking of sheep in hill areas as it seriously impacts on the livelihoods of farmers and will lead to further economic decline in areas which are already struggling.
“Current payment arrangements under locally-led or the NPWS scheme are totally inadequate as they don’t address the fundamental issue of loss of income and the devaluation of land values,” he said.
IFA is seeking a substantial increase in the allocation to the NPWS Farm Plan scheme in the Budget next month. The Minister indicated that he will be looking for additional funding.
“We will be demanding a proper consultation on any projects that are taking place in Natura areas such as the Life Nature Project in blanket bog areas in the west and north west and the rewetting of bogs as part of the Just Transition Programme on raised midland bogs,” he said