The financial loss due to lands being designated as Special Protection Areas was on the agenda of the Oireachtas Joint Committee Agriculture, Food and the Marine latest meeting when it met with Representatives from the Irish Farmers with Designated Land (IFDL) organisation.

The Group are calling for ‘adequate’ compensation to make up for the financial loss to farmers who have land designated under this status.

Chairman of the group Liam O’Keeffe told committee members that it believes that getting an annual payment which does not include any contract time constraints will be very important to resolve of the issue.

“I’m not sure how difficult that is going to be, but going into a scheme that is only so many years long will not work.

When it comes to value of land or dealing with the banks. Schemes like that won’t solve the problem,” he said.

Group Secretary, Michael Cronin said the group are in the middle of discussions and will be taking to the Department fairly shortly on these issues.

He said from the Department’s point of view the GLAS payment scheme was there to deal with this issue.

However he said the groups view was that the €2000 GLAS top up available is not adequate if your in a hen harrier area.

He also criticised the time it was taking to find a resolution to the hen harrier issue.

“Our issue around what the Department are doing at present is that it is taking a long time. We are concerned that we could be back here in three years time taking about the same issue.

“Time is off the essence here its going on for seven years at this stage.

“We need to get this thing moving fast,” he said.

Group background

Irish farmers with designated lands are a group representing landowners in regions designated for the protection of the hen harrier.

This designation was set up by the Irish Government under Directive 2009/147/EC, or the bird’s directive which provides a comprehensive scheme of protection for all wild birds naturally occurring in the European Union (EU)

The total land area affected by this designation is 167110, hectares which are owned by approximately 3860 landowners.

The sites of Hen Harrier designation are situated in the following counties, Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Galway and Monaghan.

The group (IFDL) was set up in 2014 in response to difficulties experienced by land owners in regions designated for the protection of the Hen Harrier.

Reasonable and adequate compensation

The IFDL says there is a clear injustice in terms of compensation and the government must take the concerns of the farmers and act immediately to correct this issue.

It says a proper level of compensation must be in place and must be guaranteed to remain on the lands during the designation period.

Furthermore it said the payment must be given on every designated hectare as every hectare has to be farmed in line with the demands of the designation.

IFDL proposed compensation scheme is based on the original compensation scheme which was offered in 2008 and was dropped due to budgetary constraints.

It is proposing a €370/ha GLAS plus payment up to 18.9ha with an equivalent Hen Harrier compensation rate per hectare in excess of 18.9 ha (ie €370/ha).

IFDL is also proposing a base additional payment of €150/ha up to 13.50ha (Hen Harrier) top up front loaded.

It says the reason for this proposed additional payment is to ensure that landowners with less than 13.50 ha will receive a payment in access of the GLAS payment which is available to all qualifying applicants irrespective of whether they are in the designated area or not.