The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that there is concern over Bord na Móna lands being designated in the future, and is seeking for a long-term plan to be published, covering different Bord na Móna future ownership scenarios.

Speaking at this afternoon’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine, the IFA’s Brian Rushe said that no one objects to Bord na Móna’s project – “but we are concerned about the speed and the pace at which they expect to complete it by – and their level of engagement”.

“Bord na Móna, in their rewetting project, are going to store and sequester thousands of tonnes of carbon,” Rushe said.

“That carbon will have a value and will continue to have a value in the future, and there would be concern out there that if this becomes a massive carbon sink, that carbon could then be traded.

It is our view and farmers’ views, that if there is value stored in the carbon on Bord na Móna lands and surrounding lands, that must benefit the local communities in which it is situated in.

“No one objects to this project. But we are concerned about the speed and the pace.”

Concern over land designations

Rushe said there is concern that if Bord na Móna left these bogs and they came under the remit of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, “it could result in designations”.

“We all know what has happened to farmers’ land that has been designated. It has severe economic impact and we do no want to see this as a backdoor to land designations,” Rushe continued.

It is their [Bord na Móna] responsibility to communicate this project with the local communities. They must engage fully and completely with the local communities.

He added that “we need to make sure Bord na Móna remain in these areas”. He said that the issue of compensation for farmers “isn’t being entertained” at the moment, to avoid providing any opportunities for Bord na Móna “to exit the areas”.

“The ideal scenario here is that Bord na Móna remains in the communities, have a liaison officer in the communities and are there to maintain and make sure outflows continue.”

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice pushed Bord na Móna on the idea of a written agreement with farm organisations, landowners and all other relevant stakeholders being signed.

However, a representative for Bord na Móna said “we’ve made promises we’ve always fulfilled”, and that a written agreement “is not required”.