The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association are calling for a full renegotiation of all Land Designations that will properly recognise the huge burden these designations places on landowners property. Describing the designations as the “biggest land-grab since
Cromwell” INHFA Spokesperson on designations Shaunie Boyle outlined how the lack of consultation with landowners when the designations were first introduced left a very bitter taste. This has since being compounded by the continued erosion of our property rights with landowners seeing further restrictions imposed on them – once again without consultation.
These designations in the form of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) Special Protected Area (SPA’s) or National Heritage Areas (NHA’s) covers approximately 14% of the country. However for many farmers they have stated Mr Boyle “restricted their ability, to realise the full value of what their land can deliver, either through agriculture, development or other actions and has effectively sterilised our land”
Presently those with designated sites are restricted from carrying out normal agricultural activities such as fencing, reclamation or ploughing, digging or infilling, increasing or reducing your stocking rates or type of stock, controlled burning, applying fertilizer lime or farm yard manure.- In total there are 39 activities requiring consent. “Which even if got often means a financial cost to the farmers through the requirement of planning” added Mr Boyle.
While accepting the need to protect vulnerable sites and species Mr Boyle pointed to the fact that no recognition has being given to the farmers who, through various actions and practices has delivered sites worth protecting. “The most important person in all of this has to be the farmer” he stated, adding that “if these sites are to be maintained (because it is a managed landscape) then we need to allow farmers to manage them”
Unfortunately he continued “many ‘environmentalists’ don’t get the need to manage these sites,and also don’t get the fact that on hills we carry livestock as a management tool to keep the vegetation controlled and with ever increasing traffic volumes in the interests of public safety we need the right to fence these lands”
My Boyle concluded by stating “we now need to fully renegotiate all designations and ensure landowners get their say on this occasion”