INHFA calls on EU Commission to engage with stakeholders on Nature Restoration Law

at the INHFA meeting in the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny on Friday nigh last. Photo Clive Wasson

As the EU institutions move towards a final agreement on the Nature Restoration Law the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called on the EU Commission for further engagement with relevant stakeholders before any agreement is signed off on.

In a letter from INHFA to the EU Commission the organisation detailed how the law will have a major impact on farming and our rural communities and outlined “how despite support for the law from Irish MEPs and Irish Government Ministers there is no support for this law in the farming community.”

The organisation also drew comparisons to the Nature directives that saw the introduction of land designations through the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA). These directives were the letter explained “imposed on lands without consultation and have consequently failed in these objectives. This failure was a direct consequence of a dictatorial approach from the Irish State which was facilitated by the European Union. Twenty-five years later it is deeply troubling that both the Irish State and European Union are about to repeat these mistakes.”

Through their correspondence, the organisation also stressed how farmer support is essential and cautioned that if this is not achieved “then the implementation of the NRL will be very difficult if not impossible.” On this basis, they stressed the need for active engagement with relevant stakeholders prior to any final agreement on the law.

Speaking on this INHFA President Vincent Roddy also warned how the law as currently constructed is a direct threat to CAP payments. For this reason, he stressed “it is vital that safeguards are included to ensure land subject to the law will not lose its agricultural area status which is a requirement in order for lands to be eligible for CAP payments.”

On this, the INHFA called for the inclusion of a footnote under Article 4 of the NRL. This footnote the INHFA leader explained “is aimed at High Nature Value Agricultural Ecosystems (HNV) that are contributing to Article 4 targets and details the need for these areas to be maintained under current and future agricultural and environmental operational programmes to ensure such habitats can be maintained.”

Through such a footnote we can, added Roddy “ensure a continued agricultural activity on these lands which will help to safeguard the agricultural area status and future CAP payments.”

In concluding the INHFA President pointed to the permanent nature of this law and stressed the need for due consideration and detailed consultation with those directly impacted. It is, he stated, vital “that farmers and rural communities are not sacrificed by EU institutions anxious to have a good news story for the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this month.”