'They should look at what they have done to us - our land has been made worthless'
Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30
Having 90pc of his land designated has cost Co Limerick farmer Maurice Flynn an estimated €150,000.
When he was first notified his land was going to be designated as a special protection area (SPA) for the hen harrier, he made an arrangement to swap a portion with his neighbour for good grazing land for his dairy enterprise.
However, because of the restrictions of activities on the designated portion, he says he had to buy another portion of land to fulfil his part of the bargain with his neighbour - the operators of a windfarm - that would allow them to plant the land.
Mr Flynn, who farms near Templeglantine, said he feels his property has been made worthless.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) that is at fault here," he says.
Mr Flynn received notification of the designation at the end of 2007 and was given a period of three months to appeal, which he didn't do.
"I had received in writing the terms and conditions that would follow designation, which were that 'a fair and proper level of compensation' was to be paid to us and that forestry was generally being permitted."
Compensation had been agreed at the rate of €340/ha for the first 40ha. By April 2010 the scheme had been suspended.
"It was under these conditions I allowed my land to be designated. If I had known the NPWS suddenly, within a matter of months, were going to do a U-turn on what they had given us in writing, and say they had run out of money - and the scheme was being suspended - and then put a blanket ban on forestry, I would not have allowed my land to be designated."
Mr Flynn says its well past time the NPWS stepped up to the mark and sort out the "mess" they have left landowners/users in.
"They should stop and look at what they have done to us. Our land has been made worthless by them and they are failing to recognise that and cooperate with us," he added.
He believes the Department of Agriculture is helping to sort out the situation with the new scheme and a top-up on the GLAS but these measures are not enough on their own.