Some 150ha of farmland is underwater and sheds have been flooded and more are on the brink of flooding in Co Roscommon as a result of flooding around a turlough, Lough Funshinagh.
Farmers from the surrounding area told the Irish Farmers Journal this week that the turlough hasn’t been draining at all over the last number of years.
“Year on year, at winter time the level has been way out. It’s up 1.75m this year on last year.
“The levels aren’t going down during the summer,” Roscommon IFA chair Jim O’Connor said.
“Going back six or seven years ago, two houses around it had to be sandbagged.
“Now seven, eight or 10 houses will need to be sandbagged and six or seven farmyards as well.
“The Department of Agriculture has told people that land they’re drawing payments on is not grazing land and that it will have to make adjustments.
“It’s getting out of hand. It’s no longer a turlough. It’s a stagnant pool. Parts of it are under anything from 2m to 6m of water.
“Hundreds of hectares of really good agricultural land is being permanently submerged.
“There are 42 farm families around the shores of the lake, their holdings are being compromised and they’re farming less land every year,” O’Connor said, adding that there is consensus locally that an overflow pipe to move the water out of the area is the best solution.
If the pipe was put in, the lake would be restored. It would rejuvenate the SAC and homes and farms would be maintained
John O’Hanlon, the IFA regional executive officer for the county, said that top-class grazing ground is being lost and said the turlough is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
“This is an SAC. The onus is on the State to maintain the SAC. If they don’t, does Ireland face fines from the EU?
“If the pipe was put in, the lake would be restored. It would rejuvenate the SAC and homes and farms would be maintained and would be more viable,” he said.
Denis Naughten, Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, has asked Michael McGrath, the Minister for Public Expenditure, about the possibility of amending the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme to allow farmers affected by flooding to make use of the scheme.
Families who have lived for generations beside this turlough are under untold psychological pressure
However, Minister McGrath said there was “no evidence” to suggest that flooding was due to anything other than seasonal variation in weather patterns and that he understood the Department of Agriculture was introducing a voluntary farm building relocation scheme.
“Families who have lived for generations beside this turlough are under untold psychological pressure as the flood waters outside their doors inch closer and closer,” Naughten said, adding that they need to see a comprehensive and coordinated response now from State agencies.