A recent survey conducted by the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) on public access received almost 200 responses with dog control identified as a key concern for landowners. In discussing the overall comments from the survey INHFA Vice President Pheilim Molloy stated how “over 40% of those that commented on the survey identified dog control as a major issue for them.”
Other issues that featured prominently “included
• Concerns around insurance,
• A lack of respect and awareness for the goodwill that landowners are providing,
• A lack of understanding on environmental and safety issues relating to where they are,
• Illegal parking and blocking of access points and the sense that, aspects of the tourism industry are taking advantage of landowners goodwill” added Molloy
With regard to the specific questions asked in the survey Molloy outlined how 81% had people accessing their land on a regular basis with 67% seeing people accessing their land on a weekly or daily basis.
When asked about dogs, 83% indicated that leisure users accessing their property have brought dogs. In response to the question on how many landowners have asked walkers to not bring dogs, 64% indicated that they had made this request. When queried on the uptake of this request 61% of landowners indicated how leisure users refused to comply with this request.
In responding to the details outlined in the survey Molloy indicated that “the survey has confirmed what we have been hearing from members for well over a year. Dog control, insurance and respect for farmers’ property including the goodwill they are providing, are key issues that must now be addressed.”
“Currently we are drafting a policy paper around public access that is going to call for legislation to ban non-working dogs from our upland spaces” the INHFA Representative said.
In concluding Molloy stated “how the policy paper, which we will issue in the coming days will address key areas of concern outlined in the survey.”