Irrespective of what Bord na Móna does inside its own gates, it “cannot be allowed to impact on people farming neighbouring land to the bogs”, Francie Gorman, south Leinster IFA chair told an IFA bog rewetting meeting on Tuesday night.
“You can’t compensate people for taking their land off them forever more. This is about protecting people’s farmland that they’ve farmed for generations.
“I also think that Bord na Móna should be subjected to the full rigours of the planning laws in how they go about this,” he said.
On the topic of compensation for farmers, IFA deputy president Brian Rushe said he is reluctant to go down the compensation route.
“The reason being is that I’d be afraid if we gave anyone an opportunity, so if we get Bord na Móna to write a cheque and walk away I think they might take it. And I think if we do that, we’re on the backfoot here,” he said.
Liam McEvoy, Galway farmer
Liam McEvoy from east Galway said that he had concerns that the REPS scheme could be used as a front to rewet the bogs. “The REPS scheme that everybody is hoping for, that was promised in the run up to the election, they’re going using that I would suspect to rewet the bogs and do it for them,” he said.
James Geoghegan, Offaly IFA and contractor
“I’m here on the edge of the bog and I’m also contracting. If there is any hold-up in the water in the main drains, there’ll definitely be a lot of silage ground that I work on that will be going under water.
“What I’d advise everyone to do now is take pictures of their farms as they are now and keep it as evidence because I do not believe one word out of Bord na Móna.
“When you’re outside the other side of the ditch flooded, they won’t care who or what you are. Who do you go to then?”
Michael Biggins, IFA rural development chair
“I’m in south Mayo. Bord na Móna don’t touch us here. If somebody downstream decides to up the water levels and have my drains backing up, I can assure you it’s something that wouldn’t go down too well with me.
“Rewetting, I just cannot buy into it. It goes against everything I have ever been brought up with.
“We spend our lives draining land and bettering things and then to just block up drains? If people want to do it it’s fine, but there has to be an impact study done on neighbouring farms.”
Padraic Divilly, Galway IFA
“[Rewetting bogs] sounds sexy. It sounds good because we’re all talking about the environment but sexy things didn’t always work out for everybody.”
Northern Ireland view
Nigel McLaughlin hill farmer policy chair with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) told the meeting that there is a big lobby effort on rewetting in Northern Ireland ongoing.
He recommended that farmers carry out “accurate hydrological recording of the land adjacent to the bogs” and “get out and take plenty of photographs and record them. Unless you’ve got evidence you don’t have anything,” he said.