SAC and SPA designations have been likened to a “land grab” by the State where farmers retain the deeds to property but have few real rights.
The INHFA claimed there was growing farmer anger regarding the level of restrictions being forced on land owners by designations.
“For many farmers these designations are seen as nothing more than a land-grab by the State on land that they may still have title to but nothing else,” said INHFA president, Colm O’Donnell.
The INHFA leader claimed the policy of designations meant the State was gradually exerting more influence over land use through increased regulation, but these designations were actually increasing costs and reducing the supports available to farmers.
“If these designated habitats, which accounts for 12pc of our national land base, are so important then we need to recognise this and reward the farmers for what has been delivered,” Mr O’Donnell claimed.
He added that failure to acknowledge the efforts of farmers will undermine the CAP objectives on addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.
Increased regulation and reduced income meant the current policy was penalising land-owners who had delivered for CAP, Mr O’Donnell said, while rewarding more intensive farmers who prioritised production ahead of nature habitats.
Meanwhile, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is investigating the poisoning of a hen harrier, Drumcondra, Co Meath.
Evidence gathered at the scene included meat baits which had been treated with a toxic substance. The NPWS believes that other fatalities may have occurred, and is concerned that further animals could be at risk, particularly around the area of Lough Bracken.
Some land-owners incorrectly believe that the presence of hen harriers in an area will result in their land being designated as a conservation area, thereby reducing its commercial value.
However, the NPWS pointed out that the poisoning of protected birds and other wildlife is illegal, and the service is appealing for information from the public regarding the incident in Co Meath.