New land reclamation and drainage scheme ‘overdue’

A new land reclamation and drainage scheme is overdue, according to Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesman, Martin Kenny.

Such a scheme would alleviate the problems of farmers who may be facing a fodder crisis, he said.

The Sligo-Leitrim TD said that it’s been over 30 years since there was a proper land reclamation and drainage grant available to farmers and the impact of this is being felt now.

Kenny was speaking in response to an answer to a parliamentary question given to him from the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed who said gaining European Commission approval of such a scheme would be a ‘significant challenge’.

“There is a fodder crisis looming and it might go some way in the future to avert shortages if farmers on marginal land could be given some assistance for drainage to improve grass production and management.

“The Minister has responded that although there is a measure for the clearance of drains under TAMS II included in the Programme for Government, that it would probably not be approved by the European Commission as a full national Strategic Environment Assessment and Appropriate Assessment would have to be carried out for any potentially affected Natura Areas.

“To be honest, I am surprised at this. I cannot imagine why there would be a need to carry out such assessments on land which is already being used as farmland or meadowland for the production of fodder.”

Kenny said that there is no logical reason why a drainage scheme cannot be designed to alleviate the problems of farmers in a way that does not have any negative impact on the environment.

“To look at a problem and instead of trying to solve it, coming up with obstacles to a solution, is hardly the job of a Department of Agriculture working for farmers facing a fodder crisis,” Kenny said.