Connemara is an unique area that needs to be protected and environmental farming has to be supported, according to Minister for Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan.
The Minister met with representatives of the Connemara Irish Farmers’ Association ( and representatives from the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Clifden while attending the opening of the 34th Clifden Arts Week.
Local county councillor Eileen Mannion described the meeting as “constructive”, providing the Connemara IFA with an opportunity to outline their concerns in relation to Disadvantaged Area Based payments, Twelve Bens/Maamturk Destocking Scheme, land designations, and the issue of compensation.
Cllr Mannion said: “The issue of turf cutting and restrictions was also discussed and the minister confirmed that there would be no further restrictions on turf cutting in Connemara because of the new SPA designations. The minister did, however, confirm that there were restrictions on the use of sausage machines for cutting turf under the existing SAC designations.”
Minister Deenihan agreed that farmers in Connemara needed to be adequately compensated for the restrictions imposed on them by the various land designations and that he would raise the matter with the commissioner on an upcoming visit to Brussels. He gave a two week extension of time for affected land owners to lodge an appeal to the new SPA designations.
Minister Deenihan also announced a compensation measure for destocked farmers in the Twelve Bens and Maumturk regions of County Galway whose REPS plans have terminated since the closing date of AEOS 2011. The compensation payment will cover the period from the end of the individual farmer’s REPS contract up to the end of April 2012. Payment will be based on the AEOS 2011 financial package of a maximum of €4,000 and will be conditional on the farmers committing to continue to honour their environmental commitments. It is understood that the agri-environment unit of the NPWS will be contacting individual farmers about the scheme.