Bord na Móna said it will be making a statement “in due course” in relation to calls for it to provide a written guarantee to landowners with farms near the sites of its proposed rewetting project.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) said it has received communication from Bord na Móna in which it declared that it had “made its position known” on the question of guarantees, but was “considering the matter and would be making a statement in due course”.

‘Our position hasn’t changed one iota’

Pat McCormack, president of the ICMSA, said that the farm organisation “stood ready” to work with Bord na Móna and the farmers concerned as soon as “the bare minimum of recognition and responsibility for any consequences of the proposed rewetting were explicitly accepted by way of written guarantee”.

“We have received a communication from Bord na Móna that declares that it has ‘made its position known’ – so it’s probably just as well that we make our position known again,” McCormack said.

There’s been a little bit of chopping and changing by some contributors to this question, but our position hasn’t changed one iota. Nor will it.

“Bord na Móna [is] proposing a project that could have incredibly damaging consequences for the farms adjoining the rewetting sites.

“We have said before that we have absolutely no problem with [it] doing what [it] wants with [its] own lands, but we have a major problem with Bord na Móna carrying out work that could undo the work of generations of families who’ve been farming beside [it] and make currently valuable pastures unworkable.

“We don’t think that is an unreasonable position. When Bord na Móna waves that away and says that [it’s] confident that neighbouring farmland won’t flood or suffer damage, then we say that if [it’s] that confident, [it] won’t mind giving the farms concerned a written guarantee to that effect.

‘Fair and feasible’

“But while we’re on the subject of letting our respective positions ‘be known’, I’d like to reassure the farmers around these sites that we will insist that their rights are safeguarded and that their hard work and assets are not made collateral damage of any state or semi-state project, regardless of how well-intentioned it is or how confident the engineers are.

We think that in due course, Bord na Móna will realise that it’s fair and feasible to stand behind [its] own plans and expertise and give the farmers the written guarantee to which any reasonable observer would conclude those neighbouring farmers are entitled.

The Bord na Móna peatland plan is aimed at restoring 33,000ha of peatland in over 80 bogs owned by the company.