Ireland has the capacity to fully meet its rewetting targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050 within State-owned lands, according to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week on Sunday, the Minister said there will be no requirement on farmers to mandatorily rewet their land.

This optimistic outcome would hinge on the Government being able "to secure that finally at European level".

In that regard, Minister McConalogue said that "significant progress" has been achieved in the last couple of weeks with flexibility secured within the position of the council of ministers "that would reflect the Irish situation".

Rewetting as an issue, having bubbled under the surface for months, has become a very public issue over the last few weeks, with large crowds at meetings that focused on the future of drained farmed Irish peatlands.


The Minister added that non-mandatory rewetting of farmland is "absolutely the approach that the Government has been taking throughout the whole mission of seeking to reduce our emissions and improving the environment while continuing food production".

He added that he has been working closely with Government colleagues and at European level since the nature restoration laws were first proposed in June 2022 to ensure "the final outcome will be one that will fully take account of the Irish situation, in particular our situation in relation to peat-based agricultural soils".

He acknowledged that the European Parliament will have a role to play in determining to the final outcome and said Irish MEPs are working in that regard.

Neighbouring land

When challenged regarding farmers who say their land is being affected by rewetting State-owned lands, Minister McConalogue said "that's something that will have to be accommodated and considered in relation to every proposal to rewet", whether the land in question belonged to a farmer voluntarily rewetting or to Bord na Móna or Coillte.


Minister McConalogue also said it was "absolutely the Government's full commitment" that no farmer would lose EU payments if they decide not to participate in voluntary rewetting projects.

"There will be no requirement on farmers to do this," he said. "Farmers will be given the opportunity to contribute to that should they wish ... we have to do this in partnership".

He stressed that it was important to recognise that, currently, targets are being discussed.

"We don't have those targets at the moment", he said, but expressed confidence that the agreed council of ministers position, where Ireland's 2030, 2040 and 2050 rewetting targets can be fully met from State-owned lands, can be delivered.