Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has said he did not rule out further land designations in a meeting with the IFA.
This is despite IFA president Tim Cullinan claiming to have gotten a clear and unequivocal commitment from Noonan that there are no plans for more land designations.
Cullinan said at the online meeting that the Programme for Government has no mention of more designations and IFA will be holding all parties to account on this.
He also he said that where designations exist at the moment, the compensation in place is insufficient.
However, Noonan has insisted he did not make any promises about any further designations in meetings with the IFA and the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association,
Noonan said that the meetings were informative, useful and very valuable to him.
“I committed to listen carefully to the concerns about designations and other biodiversity matters, and to engage further in consultation with the farming community and organisations,” he said.
"While I did not make any definitive statement about any further designations as my Department is still awaiting further information from the European Commission on its proposals for better protection for biodiversity in the EU Biodiversity Strategy, I stressed that I would consult with relevant organisations on what options are most suited to achieving that protection.”
The meetings came in the wake of concerns over the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which some fear would significantly curtail the farming activities of thousands of landowners across the midlands and down the western seaboard.
The INHFA has said the EU Biodiversity Strategy will increase the area of land designated SAC or SPA from 13pc to 30pc, as well as introducing a new ‘Strictly Protected’ designation which will be applied on a minimum of 10pc of the country.
Land designations have become an increasing concern for farmers. The Farming Independent recently reported that environmental designations are knocking up to €5,000/ac off the value of land.
Estate agents maintain that land for forestry generally sells for €4,000-6,000/ac. However, if it’s designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or a Special Protected Area (SPA), the value falls to €700-800/ac.