The Irish government must keep its word and provide adequate compensation to farmers with designated lands, according to IFA’s Tom Turley.

“This is a point that we will be making in the strongest possible terms to Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys when we meet her tomorrow,” he said.

“Back in 2007 IFA agreed a National Farm Plan which empowered the then government to compensate farmers for the loss in value associated with land that had been designated under the auspices of the EU Habitats’ and Birds’ Directives.

“But subsequent to that the authorities totally reneged on their commitment.”

Turley confirmed that the new GLAS scheme does offer a degree of compensation to designated land owners.

“But GLAS is a voluntary scheme: designation is mandatory.

“We will be asking Minister Humphreys to agree on a suitable compensation scheme which fully recognises the loss of earning incurred by farmers working designated areas and the associated fall in land value,” he said

Turley will attend a conference in Brussels on Friday of this week, which has been organised to review the Habitat and Birds’ directives.

“The event will be hosted by the EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella,” he said.

“The conference will give me an opportunity to highlight the total mismanagement of the designated lands issue by successive Irish governments.

“Designated lands account for 15% of the total agricultural area in Ireland. For the most parts, these areas are privately owned by farmers, who are totally hamstrung in the way that they can farm them.

“Europe and quite a number of conservation groups seem to have forgotten that it was generations of farmers who were responsible for creating these areas of outstanding conservation value in the first place.

“So it is imperative that the current generation of land owners is fully compensated for the restrictions which a notice of designation places on their businesses.”