Proposed EU legislation on rewetting drained farm peatlands could lead to protests if given the green light, according to a TD.

The EU Commission has prepared the draft legislation on “nature restoration”, but it has yet to be considered by the European Parliament and European Council.

Peatland rewetting on farmland is included in the draft which calls on EU member states to put such restoration measures in place “without delay”.

The proposed targets are:

  • By 2030 – restoration measures on 30% of these peatlands, of which at least a quarter must be rewetted;
  • By 2040 – restoration measures on 50% of these peatlands, of which at least half must be rewetted;
  • By 2050 – restoration measures on 70% of these peatlands, of which at least half must be rewetted.

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher said he was concerned that the draft legislation had not taken Ireland’s particular circumstances into account.


Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice believes that if the proposals are approved by the European Union it will “incite people to protest and fight the agenda being pushed on them”.

“Cromwell once said to hell or to Connacht, but now it appears as if Europe is just sending those in the west to hell,” the Roscommon-Galway representative claimed.

“These measures, if brought in, will heavily impact land, communities, businesses and families all along the western seaboard and out as far as the midlands.

“If farmers are curtailed from ploughing ground, which is essential for reseeding grassland, as well as potentially stopping the use of chemical inputs such as fertiliser, it will dramatically reduce the profitability of farms in those areas,” the TD continued.

“Efforts were made not too long ago to force people from their bogs and the people of Ireland stood their ground without wilting.

“If Europe pushes ahead with this legislation, similar action will have to be taken. Otherwise, those of us left in rural Ireland will be left looking out a half door at a wilderness with no communities left,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Meanwhile, the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) said that the EU proposals would have “dire consequences” for farmers, their families and rural communities.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said that it was vital to fully assess the overall impact of the proposals.

“While all counties could be impacted by these proposals, the greatest impact will be felt in western seaboard counties and into the midlands where suckler farming is often the main enterprise,” Roddy stated.