Land designation is preventing some renewable energy projects from being developed. The comment came from president of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Vincent Roddy at the recent Irish Farmers Journal leaders’ debate.
Designated land (Natura 2000 land) is of high biodiversity value with protected habitats and birds and accounts for over 2.2m acres of the Ireland’s land base.
These Natura 2000 lands are designated and generally falling under Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA).
Some 35,000 farmers are farming in an SAC or SPA. Much of this land falls on marginal areas, predominantly located on western seaboard counties. In many cases, upland designated land is suited to wind electricity production.
Roddy commented on why some farmers in his members’ base were looking at wind and hydro renewable energy projects as an option for their farms, land designation was proving to be a problem.
He commented that one member based in Mayo had attempted to develop a hydro renewable project on their land but the project couldn’t proceed due to land designation.
However, he still acknowledged that there is potential in renewables for farmers.