INHFA challenge proposals on rewetting and key elements of Nature Restoration Law

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have questioned proposals detailed in the EU Nature Restoration Law on the rewetting of farmed peatlands and the possible rewilding of our hills. The Association maintains that the proposals as currently outlined are legally unsound and will create a legal double-bind for farmers.

Following on from their address to the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee, INHFA President Vincent Roddy detailed how the association have major concerns on proposals to rewet over 300,000ha of drained peatlands and other proposals in the Nature Restoration Law that could he stated “undermine farming activity across our hills and leave them ineligible for CAP payments.”

In relation to the proposals around rewetting Roddy maintained the science on this is far from final and “while there are some that see a major carbon windfall through the reduction of emissions from the rewetting of drained peatlands there is a major drawback in terms of methane released.” This was, he stressed, “clearly evidenced in an EPA Research Report. The results from this report confirmed that under certain scenarios any benefit obtained through reducing carbon emissions was off-set by the release of methane that would continue for centuries after the rewetting process.”

When assessing any science, it is stated Roddy “vital that that science is relevant to the country and land type. Currently the science used to support rewetting on farmland is based on international studies and here in Ireland, science based on the rewetting of cut-away peatlands that doesn’t have the build-up of organic material like drained peatlands have.”

The INHFA are, he continued “of the view that no action should commence until we get the findings from the scientific studies currently being conducted in Ireland on our farmed peatlands. The findings from these studies are possibly two years away but could, he stressed, “provide a valuable counterbalance to the existing view around the management of these lands.”

On the issue of rewilding the INHFA President pointed to Articles 3 and 4 of the EU Nature Restoration Law that he stated “is using the exact same language detailed in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to describe a new designation type called Strictly Protected.” This designation is, he added “at a level above the Serengeti National Park in Africa and where applied will see all human activity cease.”

In concluding Roddy maintained that the Nature Restoration proposal threatens the economic viability of thousands of farm families and rural communities and on this basis, it is he stressed “vital that all legal aspects relating to this are fully explored to ensure they comply with EU law as defined under the Treaty of Rome and all subsequent treaties.”