IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on Minister for Transport, Shane Ross to immediately commence consultations with farmers and landowners affected by greenways, following his recognition today that farmers across that country have not been treated properly.
Speaking at the launch of the North West Greenway in Donegal, Thomas Cooney said, “IFA understands the role that greenways have to play in developing much needed tourism and economic activity in rural areas. However, the heavy-handed approach and threats of compulsory land takes, to carve up farm holdings in order to facilitate recreational cycle paths such as greenways, are unacceptable and must stop.”
“I welcome Minister Ross’s recognition today of the failure by local authorities to effectively engage with communities and I now call on him to begin consultations with those affected by greenways”, Thomas Cooney added.
Donegal IFA County Chairman Michael Chance said, “IFA has a clear position when it comes to greenways, and this has been clearly communicated to Minister Ross and his officials. Now it is time for delivery”.
The following are key measures that must be delivered to ensure that the rights of landowners impacted by proposed greenways in Donegal and across the country are safeguarded:
- Landowners and IFA must be consulted in advance of route selection and publication of a defined route corridor.
- All efforts must be made to secure voluntary agreements with landowners. There should be no threat of the compulsory acquisition of land.
- The integrity of farm holdings must be protected by limiting the impact of a proposed greenway on individual farms. This should be achieved by engaging with local landowners at route designing stage and it must take place in advance of wider public consultation.
- All efforts must be made to use available public lands, before seeking to encroach on farmers’ lands.
- A code of practice must be developed, which sets out the rights and entitlements of landowners.
- The services of a professional agronomist must be provided to each landowner impacted to assist in understanding and resolving concerns, at no cost to the landowners.
- Any losses incurred, such as exclusion from farm schemes and impact on basic payment, must be fully compensated.
- Local authorities and other delivery agencies must hold community clinics throughout the development of each project to address queries and concerns, and a Project Liaison Officer must be appointed to each project.
- Any landowners impacted by greenways must be indemnified against any potential claims arising or associated with such greenway projects.
- All health and safety concerns, including and most importantly farm security, must be adequately addressed.
Michael Chance concluded, “Greenways in County Donegal have an important role in supporting economic life in the area. However, they will also have a significant impact on farming activity. All efforts must be made to engage with, listen to and address the concerns of farm families impacted.”