IFA President Eddie Downey said that the recent storm and flood damage that has wreaked havoc on many coastal and river catchment areas must be assessed by Government in relation to future action to prevent a recurrence and to support the restoration of land.
Speaking following a meeting with Minister Brian Hayes, Eddie Downey said the problem has mainly affected western and southern coastal areas where land has been lost to the sea as well as rock and debris being strewn across farmland.
IFA got a commitment from Minister Hayes that the minor works schemes funded by the OPW and operated through local authorities must be used to protect farmland as well as urban areas. In addition, the maintenance work carried out by OPW will be continued. “It is up to local authorities to draw up projects with local farmers, which have an impact in protecting both farmland and dwellings in rural areas.”
IFA has had reports of a significant amount of land where barriers have been breached with seawater now sitting on vast tracts of lands. For example in Co Mayo where IFA has done an assessment of loss, up to 1,000 ha of land is affected. This land requires remedial works over the next number of months to bring it back to its former state.
Mr Downey said the assessment will determine what is required to get the land back to its original state. Also, remedial works and sea defences will have to be strengthened and this analysis will feed into works that need to urgently be carried out by Local Authorities.
IFA Flood Project Chairman, Tom Turley said that the Government need an overall strategy to tackle the flooding issue which has affected areas such as the Shannon catchment area and other river areas throughout the country. The Minister must bring forward the CFRAMS Management Plan which has been promised for some time as a way to expedite preventative investment required so that flooding can be avoided or mitigated.
Tom Turley also called on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney to allow lands which have been flooded or damaged by the recent storms to be eligible for all EU payments under Force Majeure legislation in 2014. No farmer should lose payments as a result of the recent weather which has impacted greatly on land.