Recent developments in many western counties regarding appeals to An Board Pleanala regarding Planning Premission granted to farmers to fence their own land is of major concern to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association. National Chair Vincent Roddy outlined how legislation passed in 2011 means farmers with designated land are now required to get planning permission to carry out normal farming activity such as fencing. The cost to obtaining this planning is very high (ranging from €2000 to €5000) as it requires the drafting of natura (environmental) impact reports and statements.
All of this stated Mr Roddy "is an un necessary burden on farmers that is now being exacerbated by appeals from organisations like An Taisce." These appeals he added "seem to be almost identical in wording across a number of counties and you have to wonder if they even conducted a site visit"
Another common trend to these appeals is the assertion that the fencing is not essential to the viability of the farm and does not conform with best farming practice.
This stated Mr Roddy is "both insulting and inaccurate, adding that surely the farmer who owns these lands, is in the best position to decide what actions they need to make their land viable"
With regard to the point on best farming practice. Mr Roddy stated "how the Department of Agriculture expect farmers to have their private land fenced and grazed with the payment of farm grants dependant on this".
Another aspect that concerns the INHFA is possible liability for farmers where their animal wanders onto a public road and causes an accident - will An Taisce or others that want to object cover this cost.
Mr Roddy then outlined how the law on fencing these lands will have to change which he indicated will be a political decision. He went on to describe what is presently in place as "nothing more than a cranks charter that only threatens farmers livelihoods"
Mr Roddy concluded by hoping common sense will prevail on this. These lands he said "have being designated because of their high environmental status which is being delivered by those farmers with successive Governments and organisations like An Taisce seem hell bent on prosecuting".