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10 Aug 2022

Clarity sought on Bord na Móna's bog rewetting plans in Offaly

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Bord na Móna plans to rewet drained bogs

FEARS that Bord na Mona's plans for rewetting drained bogs will affect adjoining farm land have been expressed by a local councillor.

Fianna Fail's Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick said people needed clarification from Bord na Mona in relation to the plans.

Speaking at the January meeting of Edenderry Municipal District, Cllr Fitzpatrick said a lot of work had been carried out by farmers over the generations reclaiming and draining lands which adjoined bogs.

“Forty and 50 years ago there were grants for farmers to drain lands,” said the farmer and public representative.

“There is a fear out there that this rewetting will have an impact on adjoining farmlands and this could affect the whole area . . . we have a lot of bogland in this region.”

Cllr Fitzpatrick was echoing fears expressed earlier last month by retired county councillor and extensive farmer, Johnny Butterfield.

These fears have also been highlighted by the ICMSA which has called for an independent review into plans to rewet bogs in the Midlands.

The farmers representative body has written to Bord na Mona proposing that an independent baseline survey be carried out in advance of the massive rewetting project proposed for several Midlands’ sites. Denis Drennan, who chairs the association’s Farm & Rural Affairs Committee, has written to the semi-state detailing a comprehensive list of conditions and considerations that the association will want responses to before the project begins in earnest.

Mr Drennan was emphatic on the need for an independent baseline survey to take what he described as a “pre-wetting snapshot” of the local conditions before any work starts, so that all the parties have an accurate and agreed picture of the situation from which any changes can be mapped.

Mr Drennan said that ICMSA considers this to be the most urgent and important preliminary consideration.

“We met and consulted with our members in the areas and have taken on board their concerns. On foot of that we have submitted a detailed list of matters that we think will require responses before the rewetting commences,” outlined Mr Drennan.

He said the organisation has already stated they have no issue with the decision of Bord na Mona to do what it wishes with its own land.

“But we have been equally forthright that we are going to insist that the actions they carry out on their land cannot be allowed degrade or destroy the productivity and value of private farms that border the Bord na Mona bogs,” he stressed.

Continued Mr Drennan: “ I don’t think anyone could conclude that that is an unreasonable position and – with all due respect to Bord na Mona – we don’t think that the farms around the bogs in question can afford to just take anyone’s word for matters that are so fundamental as this.”

We’re not being cynical, but we can’t afford to be naïve either. There are just way too many cases down through the years where farmers were told to trust agencies and board and organisations and have had to look on while commitments and vague undertakings were casually ripped up or shrugged off. We’re determined that that won’t be happening here”, said Mr Drennan.

The very first thing that must happen, according to the ICMSA Committee Chairperson, is the commission and submission of a baseline report that sets out the condition and infrastructure of the affected areas before any work connected with the rewetting commences.

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