Department ‘failing miserably’ to compensate owners of designated land

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is ‘failing miserably’ to properly compensate owners of designated land, the ICMSA’s Pat Rohan said.

The Chairperson of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association’s Farm and Rural Affairs Committee was speaking after this week’s meeting of the Designated Areas Monitoring Committee.

Rohan believes that farmers on designated land, including Hen Harrier areas, are being treated with contempt by the Government and its agencies.

Responsibility for these farmers has been shifted from one Department to another; the affected farmers’ land has effectively become ‘sterilised and useless‘ in the process, he said.

These farmers are losing money on a daily basis as a consequence of the severe restrictions that the Government has put in place, he added.

The Government and its agencies seem to have settled on a policy that involves designating land, while totally ignoring the rights of the individual landowner, according to Rohan.

They must either address landowners’ concerns equitably and fairly or they must lift the designation, he said.

Thousands of farmers affected

Thousands of farmers in every county in Ireland have found their farms designated for a variety of reasons that could include birds, raised bogs or pearl mussels, the Rural Affairs Committee Chairman said.

Farmers have been subjected to a series of ongoing broken promises and empty assurances from the National Parks and Wildlife Services and Government Ministers, he added.

Farmers on designated land are subject to many severe restrictions on their farming activities – including an effective ban on afforestation.

“The net effect is that potential to earn an income from this land has been effectively wiped out, coupled with the fact that the land is completely devalued as a result of the designation – with many normal farm practices effectively banned.

“The farmers concerned are being treated with contempt; there is no other word for it,” he said.

Rohan believes the outcome of this week’s meeting was very disappointing but reflected accurately the attitude of the state agencies on the matter. The time for empty assurances and expressions of understanding has passed and it’s time to move towards a solution, he said.