Farm bodies hit out at reclamation rules
New laws on wetland drainage seen as 'assault' on property rights
THERE has been a furious farmer reaction to the proposed introduction of stringent new rules governing the reclamation and drainage of land.
Planning permission will be needed for drainage of wetlands, while the reclamation of farmland will, in some instances, require the approval of the Department of Agriculture. The new rules are included in legislation which the Government hopes to have cleared later this month.
The proposals were outlined to farmer representatives by officials from the departments of Agriculture and Environment at a meeting in Portlaoise, Co Laois on Friday.
Farmers with certain types of wetland will have to seek full planning permission from their county council for land drainage activities where the area exceeds 0.1ha or a quarter of an acre.
A full scale Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be required for drainage work on more than 2ha -- around 5ac -- of wetland.
Department of Environment officials explained that areas classified as wetlands included the Shannon Callows, turloughs, swamps or marshes and river flood plains.
Outside of wetlands, land reclamation and drainage operations will be subject to a screening process by the Department of Agriculture. This is similar to the process used when assessing the planting of forestry or miscanthus.
If the screening shows that the work will have an impact on the environment, then a full EIA will be needed.