Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report September 2020

Activity since last National Council

Designated Land

  • IFA met the new Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan on Sept 2nd.
  • At this meeting IFA strongly reiterated our opposition to any more designated land.
  • Recent reports on designations were grossly exaggerated according to the Minister and there are no plans to further increase areas from the current level of 13.5%.
  • IFA raised in particular the EU Life Nature project where funding of €20m is provided over 9 years.
  • The Minister confirmed to IFA that this project would not proceed without the necessary consultation.
  • IFA also raised IFA’s Pre Budget submission for an allocation of €10m for the NPWS farm plan scheme, compensation for farmers where rewetting of bogland is planned, and easing the restrictions on afforestation in Hen Harrier areas.
  • IFA also raised the farm agreement and the need for an early conclusion to discussions which have been ongoing for some time.

NPWS Farm Plan Scheme

  • Following the increased allocation of €0.5m for the NPWS farm plan scheme, IFA has been pressing for an early start up.
  • The Scheme was advertised on the NPWS website and applications were invited. It is available to all farmers in designated areas.
  • 95 applications were received. These applications were assessed based on priority, habitat and species targeted, whether site was in a designated area, the significance of the site locally, regionally and nationally.
  • 78 applications were deemed of sufficient standard to take forward plans. Of these, 49 plans will be rolled out. The details of these plans have yet to be finalised.
  • An NPWS farm planner selection will take place, to be followed by draft plans being submitted.
  • IFA has called for the plans to be meaningful, with farmers getting payments which relate to restrictions and work to be carried out.
  • While payments initially will be small, IFA sees the introduction of the Scheme, which has been closed since 2010, as a stepping stone to full restoration of the Scheme.
  • With the new Government due to be formed, IFA will be pressing for a commitment that the NPWS farm plan scheme is fully restored.
  • In relation to the agreement on SAC implementation, there has been no further meeting as legal clarification was required by NPWS on aspects surrounding conciliation, arbitration and instances where compensation is being claimed.

Locally Led Schemes.

  • At the recent meeting with the Department, IFA got an update on the locally led schemes, 9 of which are in Hill areas.
  • With all schemes now up and running, IFA got an assurance that the full allocation of €70m would be used up.
  • Payments are being made to all schemes, with €0.5m being paid out recently as part of the bonus payment in Hen Harrier areas.,
  • The Locally led schemes, of which 9 operate in Hill and Mountain areas, are worth around €10m per year.
  • IFA will be looking for many of these schemes to be extended and mainstreamed in the next CAP.

CAP Transition

  • With a GLAS extension being sought, the Hill committee got a commitment that under the current arrangements the commonage plans would continue, and that payments would be maintained. IFA insisted that there would be no extra costs imposed on farmers including planning costs.

CAP post 2020

  • The Hill committee policy is that in the context of new environmental requirements that designated areas qualify for the new eco-scheme.
  • Also, in the context of carbon sequestration the last Hill committee agreed that a value be put on the extent that blanket bogs contribute to the environment and public good.


  • IFA will be raising the need for the implementation of the Wildlife amendments to allow burning next March, as well as hedge cutting in August next.

Comhairle na Tuaithe

  • At a recent meeting of Comhaire na Tuaithe, a number of issues were dealt with including:
  • A review of the membership of CnaT. is currently taking place.
  • IFA will be insisting on strong farmer representation.
  • On dog control IFA is insisting that no dogs are allowed on trails.
  • A new countryside code is been developed with a booklet for all user of trails. IFA input is vital as some of the recreational bodies want greater freedom to roam.
  • A review of the walks scheme is also being undertaken.
  • The new Programme for Government commits to increase the number of walks.
  • 10 new walks are now included in the Walk Scheme as part of an extension which was secured by IFA in the Budget. This involves an additional 285 farmers.
  • The 10 new trails included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme are:
CountyName of TrailNo. of landowners (approx.)Length on private land (approx.)
ClareEast Clare Way3336.5 km
GalwayHymany Way4060 km
KilkennyGathabawn Loop Walk42 km
KilkennyKilmacoliver Loop Walk33 km
LaoisBinninea Walk Cullahill104 km
LeitrimLeitrim Way12024 km
SligoKeash Hill Trail31.8 km
TipperaryOrmond Way4931 km
TipperaryMulteen Way169.4 km
WicklowSt Kevin’s Way52.5 km
  • In Budget 2021 IFA will be insisting that the allocation of €4m is allocated and spent fully.
  • Currently there are 2,000 farmers in the Scheme, and with the additional walks this will increase to 4,000 and will be worth €4m annually.

Upcoming Events

  • National Hill Committee Meeting Sept 2020.
ChairFlor McCarthy
ExecutiveGerry Gunning

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