Serious concerns have been raised that the Department of Agriculture's new rules regarding land reclamation and restructuring do not contain any appeals mechanism for farmers.
ICMSA deputy president John Comer said his organisation was alarmed that the regulations contained no provision for an appeal mechanism to the screening process, which will determine whether farmers will need to have an environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out for farm works.
"It is completely unrealistic to provide only for a judicial review which is prohibitively expensive and the Minister is obliged to consider more low- cost alternatives that farmers might use," insisted Mr Comer.
He also criticised the provision for third party involvement in the review process, saying it would undoubtedly cost farmers both time and money.
IFA environment chairman Pat Farrell said farmers who wanted to carry out necessary maintenance works and reclamation were extremely concerned that additional bureaucracy and costs would be imposed when the new legislation came into force.
"Minister Coveney has given a commitment to enter into a four-week consultation process and to produce a comprehensive guidance document to farmers. It is essential that this process begins immediately and that full clarification is made available," he said.
The regulations, published on Thursday last, confirmed that EIA screening will be required where more than 500m of a field boundary is removed, where more than 2ha of land is re-contoured and where more than 5ha of land is restructured.
EIA screening will also be required where more than 5ha of uncultivated land or semi-natural areas are to be used for intensive agriculture and for land drainage work on more than 15ha of agricultural land.
Higher limits have also been set, above which EIA will be mandatory.