Concerns regarding whispers from sources close to Government that it will soon be mandatory for farmers to plant some forestry on their land have been raised by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Commenting on the all-of-Government Climate Action Plan that was published yesterday, Monday, June 17, the Roscommon-Galway representative slammed the document as a “savage attack on rural Ireland“.

Commenting on the possibility of mandatory planting, deputy Fitzmaurice said: “From what we are hearing from Government sources, it could soon be mandatory for all farmers to plant some forestry on their land.

“This would be totally unacceptable and discriminative against those living in rural Ireland.

“If that rumour did come to pass, it would be interesting to find out who would benefit from the carbon credits that would be created.

While Minister [for Communication, Climate Action and Environment Richard] Bruton waxes lyrically about the measures in this plan, he doesn’t want to acknowledge that hedgerows cover 6% of Ireland and the part it has to play in this discussion.

“Despite the area it covers, Ireland doesn’t benefit from a single tonne of sequestration.”

Electric vehicles

On the topic of electric vehicles, the independent TD said: “While I am not against them, electric vehicles will not plough fields or bale hay.

“The technology hasn’t advanced enough yet to be of practical use for those living in rural Ireland – but they may suit those living in cities who only make short journeys.”

Turing to public transport, the TD stated that he has seen results from an independent study that hybrid and electric buses are not yet ready to replace their diesel counterparts, citing issues such as “failing to drive up hills along with frequent reliability issues”.

‘Lack of innovation’

While Fitzmaurice welcomed some of the measures in principal, he stated that there was a “lack of innovation and originality” in the proposals on improving livestock management, improving nitrogen use, and the better management of peatlands and soils.

“These resemble after-thoughts, as distinct to the coherent plan rural Ireland needs,” he added.

Continuing, the independent TD indicated that he had no problem with retrofitting homes, but added that the Government needs to explain – when it comes to proposed ESB power plant closures across the country – how it intends to replace these jobs.

“While their homes may be warm, the proposals in this plan won’t put food on the table.

“The Government’s failure to replace these jobs will be another example of how this plan is a culmination of spin, clever soundbites and well-meaning gobbledegook – as distinct to an actual solution,” he concluded.