The implementation of rewetting in Ireland under the Nature Restoration Law will be completely decided by the Irish Government, the European Commissioner for the Environment has confirmed.

In a letter sent to MEP Billy Kelleher, Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius said how the Nature Restoration Law is applied in each country is up to individual member states.

“Regarding the voluntary or obligatory nature of peatland restoration on privately owned land, the Nature Restoration Law targets and obligations are addressed to member states.

“It will be for member states to set out how to implement them in their national restoration plans,” he said.

The commissioner added that restoration measures will be identified by member states and it is up to the government of that country to choose if these measures will be compulsory or voluntary for farmers.

“The modalities of how such measures will apply will also be defined by the member states, ie whether to make such measures or part of them obligatory for farmers will be decided by the member states,” he said.


In the letter, the commissioner also said the Nature Restoration Law would have no bearing on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“CAP payments depend on definitions and conditions as set in regulation (EU) number 2115/2021 and in the CAP strategic plans.

“The Nature Restoration Law neither interferes with those conditions nor amends CAP applicable regulations,” Commissioner Sinkevicius added.

Reacting to the letter, Kelleher, who supported the law in last week’s vote, said he thinks it clarifies that there is flexibility being afforded to member states under the law.

“Put simply, the implementation of the Nature Restoration Law in Ireland is fundamentally in the hands of the Irish Government and there is considerable flexibility being afforded to member states.

“Additionally, the implementation of the law will have no bearing on CAP and, in particular, CAP payments to farmers.

“Based on what has been said by the various ministers, I am fully confident there will be no mandatory obligations on Irish farmers or landholders,” he said.

Restoration definition

The MEP added that there was discussion around the definition of restoration.

The Commission confirmed restoration as taking place “in order to restore active peatland habitats or habitats of species that fall in the scope of the birds and habitats directives, or it can have the objective of more generally improving the ecosystem as a means of conserving or enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, including with a view to providing climate benefits”.

Kelleher said this is a broad definition which should not scare farmers or land owners.

“In many respects, it is no different to what farmers are already doing as part of a multitude of agri-environmental schemes under CAP.

“There has been much talk about the possible damaging implications of the Nature Restoration Law in recent weeks by certain candidates and politicians seeking to make political capital out of this emotive issue.

“Last year, I threatened to vote against the Nature Restoration Law due to issues I had concerning the drainage of peatland and possible impacts on housing. These issues were addressed,” he said.