Irish MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan will not vote for the nature restoration regulation in the European Parliament next week because dedicated funding to compensate farmers affected by the new policy has not been put in place at EU or national level.

“As things stand, I won’t be voting for the nature restoration regulation on 27 February in Strasbourg. I’ve always been clear. There will be no transition unless it is a just transition. This is anything but,” Flanagan said.

“Cuts in real terms to farmers who are asked to do ever more; 80% of whom struggle to make ends meet. While at the same time they are lectured on what to do by environmentally destructive companies that are swimming in money,” he added.

The nature restoration regulation gives force to the EU nature restoration law (NRL) which stipulates that a significant proportion of Ireland’s drained peatlands will have to be rewet on a phased basis between now and 2050.

It is also feared that the application of the NRL will result in a major expansion in the total area of designated land, particularly along the western seaboard.


Flanagan pointed out that the provision of long-term funding to offset the impact of the nature restoration regulation on farmer incomes has not been agreed at national level or in Brussels, even though a study by the European Commission found that there was an €8 to €38 return for every €1 spend on nature restoration.

“I have twice contacted Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, but he hasn’t even had the courtesy to reply,” the Midlands and Northwest MEP said.

The MEP also took aim at the Government’s €3.15bn climate and nature fund, which he claimed will be “used mainly for capital projects with nothing ring-fenced for biodiversity” or to compensate farmers affected by the regulation.

“This isn’t something that needed a commitment until 2030. It needs a perpetual long-term fund beyond 2030 which farmers can trust and rely on as they plan for the decades ahead. How can we expect people to commit if they aren’t given certainty on policy,” Flanagan asked.


The MEP also warned that west of Ireland farmers will carry the vast majority of the burden for the nature restoration regulation here at home, even though their holdings are the most environmentally sustainable.

The fact that suckler farmers in the west could potentially “get a kicking” from the regulation, while dairy farmers in the south and east escaped, was a “double injustice”, Flanagan maintained.

“Once again these counties [from Donegal to Kerry] will be required to do the heavy lifting, with long-term implications for the value of their assets and the viability of their income, while other areas can continue [farming] unabated,” Flanagan argued.