TDs and farm leaders called for a national agreement on Bord na Móna’s plans to rewet 80 bogs to ensure that adjoining farmland would be protected from flooding for future generations.
During an Oireachtas committee on Tuesday 2 March, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice for Roscommon-Galway initially put forward the idea, which was quickly backed by other speakers.
“Written agreement is needed between all parties to rule out any ambiguity,” Fitzmaurice said.
He said that while Bord na Móna had engaged positively on the subject, there needed to be clarity over who would maintain bogs, drains and pumps on the land in the coming years.
The semi-State company intends to rewet 80 of its own bogs, starting with just over 30,000ha which would capture 100m tonnes of carbon.
But Fitzmaurice warned: “Once a bog is rewetted there won’t be any going back.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said while rewetting could be a positive thing for farmers, work needed to be done to ensure they were supported
“While everyone can smile with each other and agree on a Zoom meeting, at the end of the day it’s the farmers in 10 or 15 years, when we might not even be in politics, who will suffer the consequences of this.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice also urged caution in rewetting bogs, as he said rushing it could lead to “bog slippage”.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said while rewetting could be a positive thing for farmers, work needed to be done to ensure they were supported.
He insisted that the future ownership of the rewetted bogs must remain under the aegis of the State.
Concerns were also expressed by ICMSA president Pat McCormack who said that “until the ink dried”, nothing would be settled. Independent TD Carol Nolan for Laois-Offaly pointed out that many private turfcutters were concerned that their turbary rights would be affected and called for another written agreement for private turfcutters.