Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report May 2022

Designated Land

  • As part of the Designated Area Monitoring Committee, IFA met with Minister of State Malcolm Noonan in April. IFA reiterated the need for meaningful consultation with farmers on the problems of designated land and adequate compensation delivered to farmers whose income and property values are affected by designations.
  • As a result of IFA lobbying, additional funding was secured for the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme. The scheme reopened for new applications in February and closed on 31st March 2022
  • Currently, there are almost 250 active Farm Plans across the country.  142 new applications were received to participate in the scheme
  • IFA have called on Minister Noonan to increase the payment rates of the scheme to reflect the additional coast of burden on farmers whose land is designated. An enhanced Farm Plan Scheme must be funded through the national exchequer and must cater for all farmers with designations who apply. 
  • IFA is calling for the introduction of an independent arbitration scheme to determine the loss of value or impact on business caused by designations and a budget to be put in place to cover the costs associated with it.
  • A one-stop shop structure must be put in place to deal with these appeals; ensure fair play for farmers; and to minimise delays.  Applications would be made to one body, with other relevant agencies feeding into it and there must be a defined period of time in which a farmer must receive a reply
  • The Minister expressed his commitment to working together with farmers to address the restrictions faced by those in designated areas.


  • IFA Hill Committee continue to lobby the Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcom Noonan to allow the managed burning of gorse is allowed to take place in March. The extension by a month is of vital importance as it will address better vegetative management, help farmers keep land eligible for various CAP schemes and reduce uncontrolled wildfires in later months
  • IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in the spring of 2021 and 2022 should not be penalised.  This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and without proof, no farmer should have a penalty imposed on them.  IFA has been working successfully with farmers on a number of reviews and appeals over the last few months. 

Comhairle na Tuaithe

National Outdoor Recreation Strategy (NORS)

  • IFA continue to participate in the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy which is currently being developed by Comhairle na Tuaithe in conjunction with the Department of Rural and Community Development
  • The second phase of public consultation for the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy launched early this month. It will close for submissions on the 17th May 2022. 
  • The consultation document was circulated to all members of the IFA Hill Farming Committee to provide feedback and suggestions for the proposed plan.
  • After many years of negotiations surrounding the National Indemnity Scheme, a pilot insurance policy for two Mountain Access Project areas was launched by Comhairle na Tuaithe in 2021. The pilot insurance policy covers Ben Sleibhe, Co. Galway and the MacGillycuddy Reeks, Co. Kerry. The policies came into effect on August 13th 2021 and will run on a two-year trial basis.  IFA insist that the insurance / indemnification be extended to include all walking access areas and that cover for all farmers is in place.

Walks Scheme

  • As part of an extension secured by IFA in Budget 2022, The Walks Scheme has expanded to 80 trails following the addition of 31 new trails last year. There are currently 2,400 farmers and landowners involved in the scheme.
  • Following calls from IFA, additional funding has been provided to Local Development Companies that deliver schemes locally, as well as for the salaries paid to Rural Recreation Officers. As a result, 8 new Rural Recreation Officer posts have been created to further enhance our outdoor amenities, bringing the total number of RRO’s to 21. Recruitment for new RRO positions is ongoing. 
  • IFA participate in the Walks Scheme Review Consultative Review Committee.
  • A number of findings from the review are being discussed. Issues raised from the review include the lack of clarity around insurance policy and the fear of landowners on the loss of earnings from farm payments from participating in the scheme. 

Outdoor Events Guidelines

  • IFA made a submission regarding the proposed Outdoor Event Guidelines being drafted by Comhairle na Tuaithe in consultation with Fáilte Ireland, Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife, OPW, Local County Councils, and Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism.  The guidelines are planned to be for use of by any individual, community group or event organiser that is involved in the planning and implementation of outdoor activity events across the island of Ireland.
  • IFA insist that permission for access needs to be granted by the landowner in all instances where an event is scheduled to take place across private land 


  • A meeting of the EIP Advisory Committee took place in April 2022. 
  • Presentations were delivered by four current EIP projects which included Duncannon Blue Flag, Forum Connemara, MacGillycuddy Reeks and Comeragh Uplands. 
  • Farmer payments for 2021 as well as project completion dates for EIP’s can be found in the table below: 
NameTotal Farmer payments for calendar year 2021Year project completed
Blackstairs Farming Futures Partnership265,724.002023
Caomhnú Árann351,988.732022
Irish Breeding Curlew Conservation Group132,730.032022
Wicklow Uplands Council240,222.082023
MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum244,733.392022
FORUM Connemara Operational Group229,406.262022
Inishowen upland farmers 83,006.402023
River Allow Catchment Management Group184,940.002023
Mulkear Integrated Catchment Management Partnership151,001.212023
FarmPEAT 2,550.002023
Hen Harrier Programme Farmer Payments4,112,095.882022
Freshwater Pearl Mussel Farmer Payment2,142,701.002023

CAP Update

  • The European Commission recently published their observations on Ireland’s Draft CAP Strategic Plan 
  • Under the proposed AECM, the Commission has outlined the following to be clarified in regards to the Co-Operation Measure:
  • How are specific actions outlined for those in cooperation areas different to the actions being undertaken by farmers in the general scheme
  • How are the 8 high priority target areas defined and selected
  • Further details required of the nature of bespoke landscape-type actions, the role farmers will play in the collaborative scheme, and how cooperation project teams and beneficiaries are selected.  
  • IFA has reiterated that the co-operative project option must not be forced on farmers.  They must be given flexibility to participate in either approach and it’s unacceptable to set a maximum payment rate of €10,500 which includes non-productive investments.  
  • Funding for the Local Project Team involved in the running of the co-operative option part of the scheme must not come from CAP and leakage of funds cannot be allowed

Upcoming Events

  • Hill Farming Committee Meeting-25th May
  • Comhairle na Tuaithe – 26th May  

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