A plan to rewet over 200,000ha of farmed peatland in Ireland by 2050 have been blasted as a “land grab” by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

The EU’s nature restoration law proposed that 70% of each member state’s drained, farmed peatlands must be restored in the next 30 years, with half of this area rewet.

Payments which go against the restoration targets are to be phased out under the plan.

The Oireachtas agriculture committee heard last week that industrial peatlands could only account for 20% of Ireland’s rewetting target, with farmland making up the other 80%.

“It’s people who drained their lands in the past 50 to 60 years, or even more recently, that will be most affected by this,” Niall Curley of Copa-Cogeca told the committee.

'Nothing short of an abomination'

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said the plan, “which many farmers will see as nothing more than a land grab, will be fought and won”.

He said it would be “nothing short of an abomination” if Irish legislators sold out farmers by agreeing to the plan.

Jackie Cahill, chair of the Oireachtas agriculture committee, said there needs to be “very careful scrutiny” of the plan and that it could have a “major impact on land use in Ireland”.