There is growing unease among rural politicians around the implications of the nature restoration law for farmers.

A number of Oireachtas Agriculture Committee members expressed grave concerns regarding the new law.

Speaking following a private meeting with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) last week, one committee member described articles 4(1) and 4(2) of the law as “dynamite for peatlands”.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice claimed that “50,000ha of drained peatlands will have to be restored” by 2050 under the new law.

Article 4 of the nature restoration law deals with possible restoration measures on ecosystems, in what are described as Annex 1 habitats.

Article 4(1) specifies the actions to be taken on existing Annex 1 habitats, such as wet and dry heaths. Article 4(2) focuses on the re-establishment of areas that were Annex 1 habitats back to their former state. In the case of peatlands, this means rewetting.

“We are fierce worried about the implications of articles 4(1) and 4(2),” a senior committee member told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“These two articles are dynamite for peatlands,” he maintained.

Committee members also described as “worrying” the inclusion of rewetting in the draft of the law agreed in Brussels last week.

In July, the European Parliament voted for the removal of the entire article on rewetting.

Deputy Fitzmaurice claimed that the nature restoration law risked turning large swathes of the country into a “theme park” and he called on all Irish MEPs to oppose the legislation when it is voted on by the European Parliament in February.