Fine Gael TD for Mayo, Michelle Mulherin, has called for clarification on the designation of wetlands area. Speaking in Dáil this week Deputy Mulherin drew attention to the impact that the current definition of wetlands has on farmers’ ability to produce food.
Deputy Mulherin said: “The definition of what comprises wetlands has a significant impact on farmers in western counties such as Mayo. By requiring farmers of wetlands to seek consent through the planning system in order to conduct certain farming activities we are threatening their ability to farm.
“At the same time we are trying to achieve targets under the Department of Agriculture’s Food Harvest 2020 policy which would see primary food production increase by over one third. Farmers must be allowed to farm without undue hindrance or bureaucracy if our targets are to be achieved.”
The deputy said that her constituency of Mayo “is the largest geographically in the country and has significant areas of waterways, lakes, rivers and designated land. It is difficult for anybody not involved in farming to understand the burden of the restrictions on farmers living in designated areas such as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs ), Natura 2000 scheme lands and now wetlands. Farmers cannot build homes or wind farms and other installations on their holdings. Now farming, which has been the livelihood of our people for centuries, is also being restricted.”
The TD has sought clarification on the definition of wetlands pursuant to the European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment - Agriculture ) Regulations. “I am informed that draft guidelines have been issued today by the Department and that a four week consultation period will take place. I urge farmers, farming organisations and other stakeholders and interested parties to engage fully so as to achieve an acceptable outcome.”