Government Urged to Compensate Farmers Affected by Ash Dieback
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling on the government to take immediate action in implementing a scheme that compensates farmers impacted by ash dieback. This comes after the publication of an independent review of support for farmers affected by the tree disease, which states that it should be treated as a national emergency. The review, commissioned by Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett, recommends the establishment of a taskforce led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to coordinate the clearance of diseased plantations and the establishment of new ones.
IFA President Tim Cullinan emphasizes the urgency of delivering a “workable scheme that supports and compensates farmers” as recommended in the review. The independent review was announced by Minister Hackett in June 2023 and aimed to assess the existing supports for landowners affected by ash dieback in grant-aided plantations. The IFA notes that since 1990, approximately 17,000ha of land have been planted, primarily by farmers, with grant aid from the DAFM under the afforestation scheme.
Cullinan highlights that the current scheme is flawed and that farmers should be compensated for their losses, which were not their fault. The IFA is reviewing the full report, but the central conclusion is clear: a new scheme must be introduced urgently to properly support and compensate farmers affected by ash dieback. Cullinan emphasizes that this is crucial for restoring confidence and increasing farmer participation in forestry, which is a key objective under the Climate Action Plan.
Calls for Funding to Remove Dangerous Roadside Trees
Galway County Councillor Geraldine Donohue is urging Ministers Charlie McConalogue and Pippa Hackett to allocate funding to Local Authorities to assist homeowners and landowners in removing dangerous roadside trees affected by ash dieback. Councillor Donohue explains that she has received numerous calls from concerned members of the public regarding the risk posed by affected ash trees falling onto public roads throughout the county and the country.
While the 1993 Roads Act places the responsibility for roadside trees on landowners and homeowners, Councillor Donohue argues that the risk involved in removing affected ash trees is too great and requires professional tree surgeons with the necessary skills. She believes that the majority of roadside ash trees have self-seeded on verges and boundaries over the past 30 years and have not been properly maintained, resulting in significant growth in the crown of the tree, which now poses a danger to road users.
In conclusion, the government is under pressure to implement a compensation scheme for farmers affected by ash dieback. The IFA is calling for urgent action to address the flaws in the current scheme and provide support to farmers as recommended in the independent review. Additionally, there are concerns about the safety of roadside trees affected by ash dieback, with calls for funding to assist in their removal.