A €110m investment in restoring the country’s rivers has been approved by the Government’s cabinet ministers.

Minister of State with responsibility for nature Malcolm Noonan said the river fund was approved this Wednesday 28 February.

“I got approval at cabinet to invest €110m in the restoration of our rivers so that they can run free,” he said.

Water programmes

Minister Noonan said the national nature restoration plan, which is to be put in place following the nature restoration law being passed, will build on and expand efforts that are already under way.

This will include a number of new and expanded farm programmes to improve water quality, he said.

It is anticipated that the number of farmers in national federation group water schemes will grow to over 15,000 in the coming years as two new projects, the Waters of LIFE Project and the Water European Innovation Partnership (EIP), come on stream.

It is also expected that many farmers will participate in the new €25m Breeding Waders EIP, Minister Noonan added.

“Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are already taking part in schemes, projects and programmes to restore nature.

“I have seen for myself the amazing work they are doing.

“Meanwhile, communities all across the country, both urban and rural, are putting their shoulders to the wheel as well, developing projects and plans to support nature in their local area,” he said.

Nature restoration law

Minister Noonan said the €3.15bn climate and nature fund, which was announced as part of Budget 2024, “will underpin the implementation of nature restoration measures across the country and deliver real benefits for rural economies”.

Speaking on the nature restoration law, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said throughout debates on the law, he wanted its objectives to be achieved in tandem with allowing “farmers to continue to farm their land in a sustainable way”.

“The current proposals differ in a number of important respects from those originally presented by the [European] Commission and are much more balanced and practical.

“Farmers can have confidence now that no changes will be forced on them and that they can continue to produce the high-quality food that Ireland is renowned for,” he said.