It is not enough for Government ministers to tell farmers they will get the proposed nature restoration law over the line and design a plan around it, IFA environmental chair Paul O’Brien said.

Concerned about the lack of clarity on what the nature restoration law will mean for farming communities, he called for a full impact assessment to ensure targets are deliverable and realistic.

“Long-term restoration requires long-term resources, not short-term measures. CAP brings us to 2027; these targets are going up to 2050.

"How is that going to work?” he asked a Munster IFA regional meeting in Ballyvourney, Co Cork on Monday night.

Proceedings struggled to stay on topic once the meeting was opened to the floor for questions, but the longevity of compensation on designated land cropped up often.

Limerick IFA chair Seán Lavery commented: “The life of a designation is permanent, but compensation has to be for a full generation or 25 years.

"Then people can have confidence in supporting it. If it’s dependent from one CAP programme to another, we cannot support it, because governments and priorities change while designations remain.”

Compensation for farmers

The CAP budget has been raided too much, according to IFA Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) project team chair Pat Murphy. He called for compensation for farmers on designated land to come from the EU’s environmental budget.

Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly agreed and gave reasons why his political grouping was unable to support the nature restoration proposals in Brussels.

“‘Pass this and we’ll work out the details afterwards.’ That’s no way to do business and that’s why my group are against it.”

Not all spoke, but political representatives from all three Government parties were present with Independent TD Danny Healy Rae, the only opposition politician to attend.

Broadening out from agriculture to housing, Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard questioned whether there would be knock-on effects on percolation tests if a locality was rewetted.