Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report April 2021

Comhairle na Tuaithe

  • At a recent meeting of Comhaire na Tuaithe IFA has raised the indemnification for farmers who allow their lands to be used for recreational purposes. The Minister has promised legislation which will protect landowners in the event of a claim.  The roll out of this indemnification is taking far too long and IFA are insisting that it is given top priority to ensure that cover for farmers is in place without further delay.
  • Audits of new trails were hampered due to COVID19 but the dept have developed an online audit and inspection system will speed up the approval of the new walks.
  • Proposals for new walks – There is programme for government commitment to expand to 80 walks which will be done in conjunction with the review of the walks scheme. 
  • IFA are insisting that the cuts imposed on land owners in the past are restored.
  • IFA raised management of dogs in the countryside with comhairle na tuaithe.

Designated Land

  • IFA again are insisting that there must be no new designations, payment rates need to reflect the restrictions imposed on farmers due to the designation
  • The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme is Currently open for new applications  and is seeking applications. The deadline for submission of application is Friday 09 April 2021. It is anticipated that NPWS will approve approximately 200 new plans arising from this call. IFA will seek an extension to the closing date and IFA are calling for the plans to be meaningful, with farmers getting payments which relate to restrictions and work to be carried out. 
  • IFA Hill Committee continue to participate in the Designated Areas Monitoring Committee. 
  • The Hill Committee represented farmers at a Nature Bilateral Dialogue for Ireland with the Nature Unit of DG Environment of the EU Commission last month.

Proposed Results based Pilot Scheme (REPS)

  • Natura 2000 lands (SACs, SPAs, NHAs) and commonage lands have in the past been given priority entry into Agri Environment Schemes. “This partially recognises the restrictions imposed on these lands and they must be given priority entry and higher payment rates in the pilot scheme and all future agri-environment schemes
  • More Details on Rural Development Report


Wild Atlantic Life IP

  • IFA Hill Committee had a meeting to ensure farmers interest are foremost with the Project Manager on the Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE IP. 
  • The overall project budget is €20.6M and it is expected that further funding can be attracted as opportunities arise. It is focused primarily on the blanket bog SACs and associated lands from Galway Bay up to north Donegal.  
  • IFA stressed that the project must be voluntary, be locally adapted, practical, developed with those farming in this area, properly and fairly funded, facilitate flexible and adaptive management on farm, build local trust and capacity and account for factors outside the farmer’s control.
  • IFA Hill Committee will meet the project Manager later this month in advance of request for Expressions of Interest.
Wild Atlantic Life IP – Proposed Site Locations

LIFE On Machair

  • IFA Hill Committee participated in a LIFE On Machair Public workshop which covers an area of coastlands from Galway Bay to Malin Head.  
  • Machair is a semi-natural coastal grassland that is only found on the west coasts of Ireland.  
  • The is a potential of a €7m project entitled LIFE On Machair, targeting the improvement in the conservation status and ecosystem functioning of machair habitats.  
  • If successful in achieving funding, the project aims to support traditional farming on machair. 
  • The project will be a voluntary Results Based Payment approach to habitat management, awarding payments to landowners, thereby putting the landowner, their skills, expertise and knowledge of their land central to the development of this project. 
Life on Machair – Proposed sites


IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in the spring of 2020 should not be penalised.  This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and unless the Department have proof then no farmer should have a penalty imposed on them.  There are a number of reviews and appeals in progress and this will be monitored .

Flor McCarthy
Denis Griffin
Senior Policy Executive

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