The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has called on Irish MEPs to oppose the nature restoration law in an upcoming vote and “not sign the death warrant of rural Ireland”.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said next week’s vote on the proposed law is an opportunity for Ireland’s 13 MEPs “to oppose this unjust and poorly conceived law”.

“[The] INHFA implores political parties to recognise the significance of this vote and to demand that MEPs do not sign the death warrant of rural Ireland,” he said.

Roddy added that standards certain factions within the green lobby group want to impose on Irish farmers “do not represent a just transition”.

“Rather, they epitomise an elitist agenda with unimaginable negative consequences for rural communities.

“No doubt, this law will be a key factor in planning applications and will undermine private and public infrastructure projects, driving rural decline and decimate our rural towns and villages,” he said.

This comes ahead of an upcoming vote on the nature restoration law next week in Strasbourg.

Impact on hill farms

As peat soils are the dominant feature in annex 1 of the proposed law, Roddy said he was majorly concerned around the possible impact on hill farms.

A 2019 National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) report sent to the EU said that 85% of these habitats are in unfavourable condition.

Roddy said the INHFA would challenge this “on the basis that these are farmed ecosystems which hasn’t been accounted for in this reporting”.

“However, it will under Article 4 (2) compel the State to enact restoration measures that will impact CAP payments and damage the reputational value of food produced from these lands.

“The combination of such biased negative reports, combined with a mandatory requirement within the nature restoration law (if passed) to put in place restoration measures, places these farmers in an impossible position," he said.