State must address concerns around Nature Restoration Law

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called for immediate engagement with farming organisations and rural communities following the passing of the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) by the Council of Ministers.

Speaking on this INHFA President Vincent Roddy stated how “the INHFA have over the last two years fought the introduction of the law, based on major concerns around restoration and re-establishment targets that threatens farming activity and the wider rural communities.

However, once the law had gone through the EU Parliament, there was, he added “an expectation that, despite concerns by some EU Member States the law would be passed after the EU Parliamentary elections and this is what has happened.”

Through the development of this law we have, stressed the INHFA President “being told by some of our own MEPs that funding would be secured once the law has been approved.”Following the decision of the Council of Ministers it is he added “vital that our MEPs (especially those that made those promises) go back to Brussels and ensure adequate EU funding for this law.”

At national level it is he continued “our understanding that a good deal of work has already been completed on developing the National Plan. At this point it is critical that all interested parties get to see what is being developed and there must now be meaningful engagement with farming organisations, rural communities and all those that will be impacted by this law.”

Last Wednesday Dáil Eireann passed a motion that ensures farmland targeted under the NRL, “can continue to operate a range of activities that ensures these lands can continue to be defined as an agricultural area under CAP programmes and that such status can be maintained.”   

As the State moves to developing a National Plan it is stressed Roddy “vital that the detail included in the Dail motion is reflected in any National Plan.”

Concluding, the INHFA leader pointed to the SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and SPAs (Special Protected Areas) land designations that were introduced in 1997. These he stated “have been an unmitigated disaster for farmers and landowners with no proper funding and critically restrictions imposed without consultation undermining income potential and increasing costs. In any National Restoration Plan we must first address these outstanding issues and then ensure that any future plan facilitates current farming activity, remains voluntary and doesn’t undermine income potential or increase costs.”