TD hits out at An Taisce over planning objections to fencing

Roscommon East Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice has hit out at environment lobby groups, particularly An Taisce, over objections to farmers planning applications for fencing.

It has emerged this week that a significant amount of objections have been made to sheep fencing projects on lands in a Special Area of Conservation, a National Heritage Area, a Special Protection Area or a Natura 2000 habitats.

Fitzmaurice this week labelled the treatment of farmers as “disgraceful”.

“It has come to my attention over the past few days that farmers in different counties and especially in the West of Ireland who had applied to erect fencing on mountainous areas have seen objections being lodged by An Taisce and by other so-called environmental groups.

“Do these groups not realise that it is with the co-operation of farmers throughout the country that people get to walk on hills and on greenways that go through their land?”

‘Farm organisations need to wake up’

Fitzmaurice said the situation is “really serious” now and the major farming organisations need to wake up to the fact that farmers are now being blocked at every angle, and all they are doing is trying to farm their land in accordance with the EU laws and directives.

“It is now high time that these fundamentalist environmental groups decide to work with farmers and not against them and to stop these needless objections.

He warned that if the situation as it stands persists, the countryside will be closed down to tourists and others who want to walk hills and farmland.

“There is a slogan ‘Keep Ireland Open’ but one thing is for certain if the environmental lobby groups continue the way they are going, calls will be made from farmers to shut down access to walkers and tourists.

“What is going on is very wrong and farmers are being treated disgracefully and the expense that they are being put to.

“I will also be asking the Government to cut the funding that they are giving to these environmental groups who are causing huge problems in rural parts of Ireland,” he said.

Cost

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association has said that recent developments, in many western counties regarding appeals to An Bord Pleanala regarding Planning Permission granted to farmers to fence their own land, is of major concern to them.

National Chair Vincent Roddy outlined how legislation passed in 2011 means farmers with designated land are now required to get planning permission to carry out normal farming activity such as fencing.

He said the cost of obtaining this planning is very high (ranging from €2,000 to €5,000) as it requires the drafting of natura (environmental) impact reports and statements.