The Government has been called on to give legally binding assurances that compensation will be made available to landowners beside rewetted bogs in the event they are adversely affected by the process.
Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan said Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan needed to make funding allocated to companies for bog rewetting conditional on providing compensation.
Nolan said the move was necessary after the legal basis underpinning Bord na Móna’s €126m bog rehabilitation project was descried as “not clear” by Ciaran Dolan, a former ICMSA president and a qualified barrister.
“While I accept that there has been some additional movement by Bord na Móna to clarify its role and responsibilities in the rewetting process, the fact remains that it must commit to an explicit legal guarantee around access to compensation for landowners,” Nolan said.
She has asked that ministers explore the possibility of withholding any Government funding to companies that fail to provide such assurances.
Nolan said: “We know for example that the approval of the Bord na Móna enhanced decommissioning, rehabilitation and restoration scheme (EDRRS) on 24 November 2020 includes the provision of funding in the order of €108m for implementation costs over a period of five years.
“So, what I am saying is that if the big companies involved in this cannot provide sufficient levels of legal guarantees to landowners, then it falls back on Government, as the guarantor of citizens’ rights, to protect their interests.”
Bord na Móna is proposing to rewet in the region of 30,000ha and Nolan said a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ would not provide sufficient protection for adjacent landowners.