‘Anxiety is growing’ amongst midlands farmers over bog rewetting

“Anxiety is growing” amongst farmers in the midlands as plans for extensive bog rewetting progress are “still without any accompanying detailed plan”.

Denis Drennan, chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Farm and Rural Affairs Committee said that farmers are seeking a thorough explanation from Bord na Móna on “how the interests of private property owners and the productivity of farmland is to be protected”.

Last November, the cabinet approved funding of €108 million for Bord na Móna’s large-scale peatlands restoration project.

Drennan said while many in the area had general reservations about the extent of the proposed rewetting, there were “very specific concerns around the lack of a detailed plan and response procedure in the event of the rewetting causing general or specific damage to private property”.

Drennan said it would be a “mistake for the rewetting to proceed without such a plan governing any unforeseen consequences”.

‘We’ll need a formal commitment’

He said that while he understood that Covid-19 precluded any possibility of face-to-face meetings, as soon as it was practicable such a meeting should be arranged at which all relevant issues could be worked through.

“We want there to be a plan laid out beforehand covering the possibilities that our members’ farms will be adversely affected by this massive rewetting project and we want a formal commitment from Bord na Móna that they will abide by that plan,” Drennan said.

We’ll want to see the plans covering possible adverse effects on our farms beforehand and we’ll want to know the exact procedure to be followed if and when that damage occurs.

“We’ll need a formal commitment from Bord na Móna to make good any adverse effects on our farms through their project now and into the future.

“It’s important to ICMSA that the people of the locality realise that we’re not standing in the way of climate progress, but we can’t allow someone else’s decision damage the local farmland that generations of farm families had to work so hard to improve and drain and make productive.”

Drennan added that there is also an issue for non-farming rural dwellers “in terms of possible damage to roads and other infrastructure”.