Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Compensation sought by IFA for opening up wells

Martin Ryan

The IFA plans to lodge a multi-million euro bill with local authorities for the disruption caused on holdings where county councils are taking water from farm wells.

A bitter stand-off has developed over the past year between local authorities and farmers because of restrictions on farming practices that apply to lands adjacent to wells used for public water needs.

However, the IFA is now demanding compensation from the local authorities for the disruption caused by these restrictions.

Demands for payments of up to €5,000 a year are expected to be lodged with the county councils in respect of each farm well. This is to compensate land owners for production losses.

The level of the demands will be set to mirror payments made in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), where similar restrictions on land use have been applied.

In many areas, restrictions on slurry and artificial fertiliser application extend to 40ac around the well and can take in neighbouring farmers' lands.

In the vast majority of cases no payment was made by the county councils when they acquired the use of the wells.

Ironically, some farmers who use the public water supply are now being metered and billed for water which may have come from their own holding.

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A number of meetings have taken place between farmer representatives and local authorities. This has resulted in some councils agreeing to reduce the exclusion zones around wells. However, they are insisting that restrictions remain.

A case study of the income loss incurred as a consequence of the restrictions is currently being carried out by the IFA in Co Longford. This study will be used to establish the level of compensation necessary.

However, the compensation demand is expected to be set along the lines of the payments made for SAC land.

Gerry Gunning, of the IFA rural development committee, confirmed that demands will have to be made on the county councils.

"The farmers are at least entitled to be compensated because the restrictions mean they do not have full use of their land. They must be recompensed," Mr Gunning insisted.

"It is like an SAC on a farm. If land is designated as an SAC then compensation is paid."

Mr Gunning said the IFA will be seeking compensation from all local authorities who have availed of wells on farms.

Irish Independent