‘No more ex­cuses on des­ig­nated land’ — farm lead­ers

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - LOUISE HO­GAN

THE re­ces­sion can no longer be used as an ex­cuse to put off re­in­stat­ing the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice (NPWS) farm plan scheme for des­ig­nated lands, farm bod­ies have warned.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing of the des­ig­nated ar­eas mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tee, farmer rep­re­sen­ta­tives said that there were still many is­sues around spe­cial ar­eas of con­ser­va­tion that needed to be ad­dressed.

“Farm­ers on des­ig­nated ground have been treated badly for the past seven years or more and it’s time to fix this,” said the ICSA’s Sea­mus Sher­lock.

Her­itage Min­is­ter Heather Humphreys has been urged to re­verse cuts im­posed in 2010 when the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme closed to new ap­pli­cants.

Mr Sher­lock said there was broad con­sen­sus that the ru­ral devel­op­ment schemes were never de­signed to pro­vide ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion for the in­come losses.

The IFA’s Padraic Joyce said the farm plan scheme was cen­tral to the des­ig­na­tion process and com­mit­ments must be backed up with fund­ing.

Farm­ers con­tinue to have ma­jor con­cerns with des­ig­nated land which rep­re­sents around 13pc of the land area or nearly one mil­lion hectares of land, he said.

The ICMSA said that the level of pay­ments due to be an­nounced shortly un­der the pro­posed €35m hen har­rier scheme will be a de­ci­sive fac­tor. “It really is this sim­ple: un­less the pay­ment rates are ad­e­quate, this scheme will fail,” said the ICMSA’s Pa­trick Ro­han.

“If re­quired ad­di­tional fund­ing should be made avail­able so that all farm­ers who want to par­tic­i­pate get an op­por­tu­nity to do so.”

Mr Ro­han added that the re­stric­tions placed on farm­ers work­ing des­ig­nated land needed to be ex­am­ined, as did the de­val­u­a­tion of the land.

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