Hill Farming Reports
Hill Farming Council Report June 2021
Comhairle na Tuaithe
- At a recent meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe Uplands Subgroup IFA again raised the indemnification for farmers who allow their lands to be used for recreational purposes.
- IFA has always been supportive of walking but the farmer can’t be expected to carry the risk which is causing stress and anxiety.
- 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 is insisting that it is given top priority to ensure that cover for farmers is in place without further delay.
- Comhairle na Tuaithe informed the Uplands subgroup that they are in discussion with an insurance company and will have more information in relation to the launch of a pilot programme for the next Comhairle na Tuaithe meeting which is scheduled for June 17th 2021.
- Proposals for new walks – There is a programme for government commitment to expand to 80 walks which will be done in conjunction with the review of the walks scheme.
- Audits of new trails were hampered due to COVID19 but the dept have developed an online audit and inspection system which will speed up the approval of the new walks.
- IFA have reiterated the point that the expansion of the walks is far too slow and it must be moved on with more urgency.
- IFA are insisting that the cuts imposed on land owners in the past are restored.
- Comhairle na Tuaithe will have more detail at the next meeting which is scheduled for June 17th 2021
- IFA raised management of dogs in the countryside with Comhairle na Tuaithe.
- 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 opened for new applications in March and closed on Friday 09 April 2021.
- 119 plans will go to the next stage and have schemes designed.
- The farm plans may include more than one farmer.
- Farm Plan schemes to be designed to benefit blanket bogs, birds of conservation concern, pollinators, lesser horse shoe bats, rivers, turloughs, invasive species, tillage biodiversity, annexed grasslands and more.
- IFA Hill Committee continues to participate in the Designated Areas Monitoring Committee.
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.
EU LIFE PROJECTS
Wild Atlantic Life IP
IFA Hill Committee held outdoor meetings last month with the Wild Atlantic Nature Project team Derek McLoughlin and Garry Goggins.
- The Project is focused primarily on the blanket bog SACs and associated lands from Galway Bay up to north Donegal and the objective is to achieve good habitat quality in the north-western SACs.
- It is planned to pilot the project in the Owenduff/Nephin SAC area in Mayo for 2021 and 2022 with payments for both years. It is to open for all farmers in the Owenduff/Nephin SAC area to submit an Expression of Interest from Monday may 24th until June 14th.
- Both Derek McLoughlin and Garry Goggins of the LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature project gave a detailed presentation to IFA branch members on how each land parcel would be scored on an actual inspection.
- The Wild Atlantic Nature Life IP or any other scheme must not lead to increased restrictions on farms and IFA welcome clarification that participating farmers will be allowed to stock their land to its potential”.
- IFA insist that all farmers who submit an expression of interest to participate in the project must be included.
- 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 closely over the coming months