The Department of Agriculture has raised land eligibility issues with a number of farmers whose land has been submerged by floodwaters around Lough Funshinagh, Co Roscommon.

Under the rules for the Basic Payment Scheme, an eligible hectare of land is land that is used for an agricultural activity, and that land needs to be in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation.

“The Department has examined the eligibility of certain lands around Lough Funshinagh in relation to the flooding of the land and the eligibility status of that land,” a Department spokesperson said.

“Where such issues arise, the Department enters into correspondence with the applicants, and a right of appeal forms part of this correspondence.

“The processing of any land eligibility issues on such holdings will continue to be processed on a case-by-case basis in the normal way, in line with the existing land eligibility rules.”

Jim O’Connor, Roscommon IFA chair, told the Irish Farmers Journal that water levels are going up day by day and it isn’t farmers’ fault.

“Payments should be repaid [to farmers], these circumstances are entirely out of their control. They can’t lower the water levels, but the State, in its duty of care to its citizens, can.

He said the State has “washed its hands” of its responsibility for the turlough.

Rising levels

Pádraig Beattie, a sheep farmer from Rahara, said he put a staff in the floodwaters on Monday and that levels have risen another 20mm since Sunday last. “This thing will never stop going up. We’ll be lucky if it stops in March. It’s 6in higher than its peak on 1 April 2016 and it’s not even 1 February yet.”

The Department of Heritage said it is aware of concerns in the local area with respect to the threat of flooding.

“However, policy and its implementation concerning flood risk management is primarily the responsibility of the Office of Public Works and the Department understands that they have carefully considered the options available,” a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the Department “will examine the matter in more detail with a view to establishing what an ecological survey could be tasked to do and what outcomes might be hoped for from such a survey”.