Activity since last National Council
- 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.
- As a result of the meeting with the Minister, a further meeting with the NPWS on October 14th next, to discuss the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the likely implications this will have for Ireland.
- IFA again will be insisting that there must be no new designations and that compensation payments must be enhanced to the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, and EU Agri-Environmental programmes.
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.
- With a GLAS extension being sought, the Hill committee, at a recent meeting with the Dept. 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 in commanage areas.
- 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 new structure for the organisation is being discussed.
- IFA is insisting that the farmers/landowners representation is not in any way diluted.
- National Hill Committee Meeting Oct 2020.
- Meeting NPWS. 14th October 2020.