Commonage review will not be an easy task, minister

A review of Ireland’s commonage framework is under way, where key communications between farmers directly managing the lands, relevant state agencies, the farming organisations and all other interested stakeholders will take place. 

This is according to Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, who was responding to a parliamentary question this week. 

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the minister when the commonage framework plan review will be completed and the reason for the delay in completing the review in view of the impact this delay has on farmers who participated on the Twelve Bens-Garraun complex and Maumturk Mountains special areas of conservation scheme in respect of amending their AEOS and REP scheme plans.

In reply, Minister Coveney said commonage lands form an important part of the farming enterprises of many farmers, particularly along the west coast.

“They also form an important part of the local environment from the point of view of bio-diversity, wildlife, amenities and economic returns for example tourism,” he said.

The minister noted that there is a substantial risk of land abandonment as under-grazing become more of a problem.

“Under-grazing leads to an increase in ineligible land under direct aid and agri-environment schemes and leads to risk of financial corrections being imposed by EU Commission,” he added.

The minister continued: “The farming of commonages lands has a long tradition in Ireland. It is by its very nature a complex area – there are issues about the legal right to claim and there have always been disputes about the grazing of the commonages. In the vast majority of cases, however, commonage shareholders work well together on a co-operative basis to maintain the commonages in good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC) or where there is under-grazing to return the habitat to.”

According to the minister, this will be achieved by working with the farmers directly managing the lands, relevant state agencies, the farming organisations and all other interested stakeholders.

“It will not be an easy task but it is achievable if we all work in a co-operative basis. It is expected that this process will commence shortly.”