June 8, 2023
“New restoration law text strikes a balance for nature and farmers” – Chris MacManus MEP

“New restoration law text strikes a balance for nature and farmers” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP welcomes practical additions that reflect the wishes of Farming communities

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the recent progress made on the Nature Restoration Law in the European Parliament’s Environment committee describing text additions as an important step forward for both nature and farming communities. The Midlands Northwest MEP said that, since the AGRI opinion vote on the 23rd May, the issues we raised directly with negotiators on behalf of farmers have now been added to the text.

MacManus also said that, unlike Fine Gael and their EPP group, Sinn Féin and the Left group acted in good faith during negotiations on the law and achieved additions to the text that should alleviate concerns expressed by Irish farmers and rural communities. 

A notable number of items which Sinn Féin had sought to be included in the text have now been added, including:

·      a definition of rewetting and an explicit obligation that it must be voluntary for farmers. 

·      that national restoration plans must provide for an estimated socio-economic impact of the implementation of the restoration measures.

·      compensation schemes for farmers and others who choose to undertake nature restoration measures.

·      a new chapter on funding, including a mandate for a permanent dedicated nature restoration fund (outside of CAP) to provide additional financial support for farmers and others involved in nature restoration.

·      a new chapter on public participation, meaning farmer, fishers, foresters, business community, civil society organisations, landowners, land users and the general public must be engaged in the preparation, review and implementation of Ireland’s national restoration plan.

On the new text MacManus said:

“I am happy to say that there has been recent progress in the negotiations that reflects the concerns we raised on behalf of farmers. The new additions are sensible and practical and have helped achieve a compromise on the legislation, which secures vital progress in terms of nature protection and restoration.  The addition of a new chapter on funding will be welcome news for many land owners in rural Ireland, especially now that it includes a mandate for a permanent dedicated nature restoration fund within the MFF (outside of CAP) to provide predictable and additional financial support to farmers and others involved in nature restoration. It is also very heartening to see that the ambition of the targets in the regulation is kept intact, despite attempts to weaken it on all fronts from EPP.”

“Now we have a final agreed compromise text which will be voted in the ENVI committee, and hopefully subsequently in the plenary. The new text reflects Sinn Féin’s commitment to the importance of constructive engagement when it comes to negotiations, and the importance of acting in good faith.”

Of course we need a plan to restore nature. This is not in dispute. It is about finding the best and most effective way to do this.”

“Sinn Féin have made it consistently clear that we would constructively engage on the law to bridge any gaps and address any ambiguity in order to have a holistic law that we could then support. This is now reflected in the final negotiated text in ENVI thanks to joint efforts by ourselves, our group negotiators and many others across the political spectrum with the notable exception of the EPP and far-right at this current time.”

“Sinn Féin is committed to nature restoration and the protection of our biodiversity. Tackling an issue as important as nature restoration and the protection of biodiversity needs cooperation, not setting people against each other. We can and must do this in cooperation with farming, fishing and rural communities.”

“The ENVI committee vote on the law on the 15th of June is expected to be close, but we support the new negotiated text now that it has addressed the practical concerns of farming communities in Ireland.”

“According to the new text, rewetting will be voluntary, targets will be flexible, there will be a national socio-economic impact assessment, and a new dedicated nature restoration fund outside CAP that farmers, foresters and fishers and others could avail of. Regarding decision-making on restoration plans and measures, the public and stakeholders must be involved in all phases.”

“We voiced the concerns of Ireland’s rural communities at an EU level and the new nature restoration law text shows that we’ve been listened to. A balance has now been struck that works for all stakeholders.”

MacManus concluded, 

“The onus is now very much on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to clarify to the public if they would support the new negotiated text in ENVI and in plenary, and influence their groups to support the vote on the law in the ENVI committee on the 15th June.”  ENDS

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