Eamon Ryan hits out at ‘scaremongering’ by opponents of nature law

Minister for Transport, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Caroline O'Doherty

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has accused opponents of the proposed Nature Restoration Law of scaremongering in relation to its impacts.

Mr Ryan said much of the argument he had heard against it was inaccurate and was leading to unnecessary division.

“A lot of the commentary it seems to me is not reflecting what the actual law is saying,” he said.

“I do think it’s very good to have debate on it and very good to listen to concerns but it should be based on the facts and the facts are different to some of the information being put out.”

Mr Ryan was responding to claims by Irish MEPs, including those from government parties, that the proposed law would destroy farming by requiring widescale rewetting of peatland drained for agriculture.

Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher and Fine Gael’s Colm Markey have been outspoken against the law, as has Sinn Fein’s Chris McManus.

Supporters of the law have said that much of Ireland’s early targets could be achieved through re-wetting projecs already underway by Bord na Mona which is rehabilitating lands it used to strip for turf.

Mr Ryan said any impact on farmers’ lands would be negotiated and compensated for.

“No-one is going to be forced and they will have to be paid,” he said.

The Minster was speaking at conference hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on land use and climate change.

He said farmers would also benefit by being able to charge a premium for produce which could genuinely be described as green because it was sustainable from an environmental and climate perspective.

“We want a family farm system, not big contractors, not intensive. We’re not going to compete with 15,000 cattle in a lot outside Beijing, we’re not going to be able to compete with the prairies of Ohio but we can compete as a producer of green food,” he said.

“I hear the views – the scaremongering I’d call it – in recent times that this Nature Restoration Law from Europe is going to destroy the family farming system and I absolutely, fundamentally disagree.

“Are we going to vote for nature destruction law? We’ve lost our water quality and half our wildlife.

“That has to stop. That has to be reversed. We are all healthier, wealthier and more secure on an island where nature is strong.

“Let's not get distracted, let’s not get divided into a spat over a law in Brussels which we do need but which Isn't the fearful threat that some people present it as.”

Mr Ryan said agrifood companies were at “huge risk” of losing their reputation as producers of green food and the ‘Origin Green’ label that is meant to certify sustainability.

He said he believed they were aware of the risk but they had to be part of the solution.

“They have to pay the farmers more for more sustainable solutions,” he said.

"The international markets and the retailers will not buy produce or will not pay a premium if it’s not come from a truly origin green source.”

Today's News in 90 seconds - May 25th