Monday 12 September 2011

Farmers query wetlands deal

A DEAL between the Government and the EU, which will prevent Ireland facing fines of €33,000 a day for failing to provide Environmental Impact Assessment on some agriculture projects, has failed to impress the Irish Farmers’ Association.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney announced reforms to address the findings of the European Court of Justice on the drainage of wetlands which should have been subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“Our ambition is to meet our compliance requirement with the EU directive and to facilitate reasonable activities by farmers in these areas, while also protecting our valuable environmental heritage,” said the Minister.

“While the court may ultimately impose a fine for the legacy of inaction, the shared understanding that we have secured here with the commission should spare us from the imposition of daily fines of €33,000 per day or up to € 12.5 million per annum,” he said.

Mr Coveney said he was satisfied the regulations now proposed were workable, would minimise the administrative burden on farmers and keep the application process outside the planning system.

Under the deal, the threshold for mandatory EIA for drainage of wetlands has been significantly reduced. The IFA, which had objected strongly to the fact farmers would have to carry out EIA for development and in some cases seek planning permission for farm work, said further changes of the regulations were needed.

“The implementation of the legislation must minimise the hassle and bureaucracy imposed on farmers,” said IFA president John Bryan.

Irish Times

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