The move by Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan to lead a campaign of 11 EU countries to have the Nature Restoration Law approved by the EU Council in June is ill-judged, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman.

“I met Minister [of state for nature] Malcolm Noonan last week and made it clear that farmers would continue to participate in schemes to improve biodiversity, but we are completely opposed to the proposed EU Nature Restoration Law on a number of fronts,” he said.

“Firstly, dealing with this issue through a law is wrong. We are told it will all be voluntary, but that is not consistent with introducing a legal requirement.

“Secondly, it is important that those farming within Natura 2000 sites are not over burdened with the requirements to restore habitats and that agricultural activity in these areas, specifically those referenced in Article 4 of the document, is allowed to continue.”

Proper funding

Gorman noted that proper funding and a full impact assessment is essential but not yet completed.

“The reason the law has been held up is because a number of member states are now unsure about various aspects of the law. The EU and Minister Ryan would have been far better off engaging directly with farmers and looking to deal with this through incentives, rather than bringing in a flawed law,” he added.