'No more excuses on designated land' - farm leaders
The recession can no longer be used as an excuse to put off reinstating the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) farm plan scheme for designated lands, farm bodies have warned.
Following a meeting of the designated areas monitoring committee, farmer representatives said that there were still many issues around special areas of conservation that needed to be addressed.
"Farmers on designated ground have been treated badly for the past seven years or more and it's time to fix this," said the ICSA's Seamus Sherlock.
Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has been urged to reverse cuts imposed in 2010 when the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme closed to new applicants.
Mr Sherlock said there was broad consensus that the rural development schemes were never designed to provide adequate compensation for the income losses.
The IFA's Padraic Joyce said the farm plan scheme was central to the designation process and commitments must be backed up with funding.
Farmers continue to have major concerns with designated land which represents around 13pc of the land area or nearly one million hectares of land, he said.
The ICMSA said that the level of payments due to be announced shortly under the proposed €35m hen harrier scheme will be a decisive factor. "It really is this simple: unless the payment rates are adequate, this scheme will fail," said the ICMSA's Patrick Rohan.
"If required additional funding should be made available so that all farmers who want to participate get an opportunity to do so."
Mr Rohan added that the restrictions placed on farmers working designated land needed to be examined, as did the devaluation of the land.
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