Bord na Móna must commit to rectifying any damages to farmland in future rewetting efforts, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack has said.

The ICMSA has made similar requests to Bord na Móna in the past few months, as farmers in areas near proposed rewetting sites remain apprehensive about the projects.

McCormack added that a commitment would also be needed from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on the issue before farmers in the vicinity of rewetting initiatives ‘buy in’ to the environmental works.

“There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the local farming communities are going to accept any kind of vague, airy assurance from Bord na Móna or NPWS that they will have a look at individual cases ‘down the line’ if and when damage occurs to private adjoining farms as a result of these rewetting projects,” the ICMSA president commented.

Farm visits

The fresh calls for a written guarantee for farmers come after McCormack visited a Bord na Móna site and conversed with local farmers on their hesitation to embrace the scheme.

He added that the approach taken by the NPWS and Bord na Móna was leading to serious disagreement with the communities which may be affected and has possibly opened the way for legal challenges to rewetting projects from those impacted, should no commitment be provided by the bodies.

Reasonable and proportionate

A written guarantee promising to undo any unintentional damage caused to farms in rewetting efforts is neither unreasonable nor disproportionate, according to the ICMSA.

McCormack added: “We can’t understand why Bord na Móna and the NPWS just do not accept the very reasonable position adopted by the neighbouring farming communities, which simply states that where damage or degradation to private farmland is caused by a rewetting project that Bord na Móna and the NPWS will guarantee in writing to make that good.”

The ICMSA president highlighted that the longer the situation progresses without any assurance being granted, the more apprehensive farmers will become.