TD: ‘Climate plans would make a theme park of the west Ireland’

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has criticised “drastic proposals” from the Oireachtas’ climate committee, saying that the main parties “appear fully in favour of penalising rural dwellers”.

The Roscommon-Galway TD said that the plans put forward by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, would have the greatest impact on people living in rural Ireland.

“It is eyebrow-raising to see that they are now talking about the ‘regionalisation’ of carbon,” argued Fitzmaurice.

Ironically enough, in the document that I have read, I have seen nothing whatsoever about the derogation that is given on nitrates – which is unusual when, at the same time, they are trying to cripple the ordinary person.

He argued that the attention of the committee members could have been focused elsewhere.

“Did they look at the likes of feedlots? From reading the document, in my opinion, they haven’t. From what I have seen, they want to try and make a theme park out of the west of Ireland,” Fitzmaurice claimed.

Fitzmaurice referenced particularly the proposal to wet 270,000ha of peatlands, starting with 130,000ha up to 2030.

No one appears to have done a costing on this. Second of all, while it may be workable to go onto state-owned lands, do they not remember the debacle that the state had over the last number of years with people who had turbary and fee simple rights in bogs?

He argued that the plans to rewet these lands will have a negative impact on farmers, saying that if mountain land was rewetted, it would “probably” make these areas ineligible for drawing down the basic payment.

Fitzmaurice added that the main parties want to get beyond the next election before “they take a carbon tax out on some livestock sectors”.

“In my opinion, the one being most targeted at the moment is the beef and suckler sector. This Government doesn’t seem to realise that a lot of suckler cows on average land in the west of Ireland have a large acreage to travel on, so it is not intensive – unlike some other types of farming,” he argued.

We need to strike a balance and make sure that rural Ireland is not disproportionately affected. When the final draft of this document comes through, it will be interesting to see where the main parties stand.

Fitzmaurice concluded his remarks by urging people to “give plenty of consideration” to who they vote for in the upcoming local elections, which are set for May.

“There is no point in a candidate telling you that they don’t believe in something if their party’s policy is to cripple you by 20c/L on the fuel that you need to drive to work, bring your children to school or even do your daily chores,” he claimed.