IFA ‘gets commitment’ of no plans for more land designations

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says that it has been given a “clear and unequivocal commitment” that there are no plans for more land designations.

IFA president Tim Cullinan has said that he received the assurance from Malcolm Noonan, the Minister of State with responsibility for heritage, during an online meeting.

During the meeting, Cullinan said the Programme for Government has “no mention of more designations and the IFA will be holding all parties to account on this”.

Farmers from Connemara; west Co. Mayo; the Shannon Callows; south Co. Kerry; and south Co. Galway were part of the delegation that met with Minister Noonan.

“[We] made it very clear that where designations exist at the moment, the compensation in place is insufficient,” Cullinan noted.

Meanwhile, IFA hill chairperson Flor McCarthy said that nature projects under the EU’s LIFE programme in parts of the west and northwest “must not lead to increased restrictions on farms, and farmers must be allowed to stock their land to its potential”.

“Furthermore, any state land purchases by the NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] to increase national parks will not be accepted,” McCarthy added.

The minister apparently assured the IFA that he would “fully engage” with farmers in the areas where this project will apply.

“Current payment arrangements under locally-led schemes or the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme are totally inadequate as they don’t address the fundamental issue of loss of income and the devaluation of land values,” the IFA hill chairperson argued.

The IFA said it is seeking a “substantial allocation” to the Farm Plan Scheme Budget 2021, which is set be unveiled next month (October). The minister seemingly indicated that he is seeking additional funding.

“We will be demanding a proper consultation on any projects that are taking place in Natura areas, such as the LIFE nature project in blanket bog areas in the west and northwest, and the rewetting of bogs as part of the Just Transition Programme on raised midland bogs,” McCarthy concluded.