We are surprised that no attempt appears to have been made to consult any of those organisations which represent these owners.
Who apart from the IFA participated in these negotiations and with whom were they held?
Why has the full text of this agreement not been published?
Why was no attempt made to consult with interested parties?
Who is funding this buyout?
Why has this issue been reduced to one of compensation without considering the effect on the many families who are dependent on this as a fuel source and who may not necessarily be owners themselves?
Those affected will generally be people who are already struggling to provide for themselves and their families. The habitats directives only require that land be managed sustainably. Bogs regenerate and the greater part of the conservation interest is in the cutaway bog.
This will have the further effect of increasing rural depopulation and such lands which cease to be managed will soon revert to a different landscape than the one that is sought to be protected. Such lack of management has already caused parts of the Burren to be taken over by scrub hazel.
For these reasons such a proposal which is likely to seriously impact on both proposed special areas of conservation and special protected areas requires a mandatory environmental impact assessment.
For those people who may feel tempted to accept the monies that are currently on offer we would like to point out firstly that it will be subject to tax.
Secondly, an area of one acre of raised bog, with an average depth of 15m represents 80 years’ of fuel for an extended household. Such an acre was estimated by Bord na Móna to be worth £128,000 per acre, approximately €160,000. Those landowners who wish to retain their land and accept an annual payment should note that it is not linked to the price of oil and they will have to bear the cost of changing to a different system. It should also be noted that the cost of registration of title must also be borne by the landowner.
We appeal to the IFA to answer these questions and to engage in a dialogue over the issues we have raised.
This is not simply a question of compensation but the disappearance of a way of life, and the loss of a fuel source to those people who depend on its production for their livelihood.