Farm left damaged after ‘unsanctioned party’

An incident recently occurred in Co. Waterford whereby a farmer discovered that part of their farm had been left damaged following an “unsanctioned party” around a campfire.

Commenting on the issue, Seamus Sherlock, chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) Rural Development Committee, said: “Members of the public should not assume that they can use farmland for recreational purposes.”

In this case, electric fencing was pulled down and the posts were then used in the campfire.

“Removing fencing is no joke and could easily have caused harm to livestock or to members of the public,” he said.

The fire was also set close to gorse which Sherlock warned “could have ignited” given the current dry conditions in the area.

Litter, bottles and the remains of sleeping bags were also left behind at the site.

Sherlock said that the incident illustrates the difficulties facing farmers when members of the public use farmland for leisure purposes “without consent”.

Although he emphasised that the ICSA is in favour of “bringing the countryside to life” and for people to enjoy all that rural Ireland has to offer; he highlighted the importance of formulating the code of best practice for the country’s greenway projects – a process which the farm body is involved in.

Greenways

Commenting on the nationwide greenway projects, Sherlock said that “goodwill” on behalf of landowners is paramount.

However, he also cautioned that incidents like this will undoubtedly make farmers “even more wary” about the potential consequences of such projects on their land.

He said that it should be seen as a reminder to policy makers that you cannot go down the road of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) and disregard landowners.

Sherlock concluded by encouraging all those enjoying rural Ireland for recreational purposes to be “mindful” of livestock and property around them.