Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Irish Council Leader Calls For Open Season on Hen Harriers

In an extraordinary response to reforms on CAP payments the Limerick Leader newspaper recently published comments from Limerick Council Chair John Sheahan that included a call for an 'open season' on Hen Harriers if certain fiscal conditions for local farmers were not met.

Irish Hen Harrier from the BirdGuides Iris Galleries © Polina Kasapova

We have reproduced part of the news article and Councillor Sheahan's reported comments below:

Following the conclusion of the CAP deal, Cllr Sheahan called for a review of Natura 2000 sites, their designation and compensation for landowners adversely affected.
“Farming in the marginal lands of CountyLimerick is being decimated by the kosh of SPA. No proper plan is in place to assist farmers badly affected, total control is now with the National Parks and Wildlife Service – a cloak which our ministers and officials are happy to hide behind”, said Cllr Sheahan.
Large swathes of land in West Limerick and in some cases entire farms are designated to protect a predatory bird known as the Hen Harrier, he said.
“To some of us this name was an addition to our vocabulary, in days gone by it was a hawk. This protected bird has the power to stop a landowner reclaiming land, planting forestry, or constructing a windfarm.
“Following the bad weather of the last few years farmers are facing choices of how best they can manage their lands, and I stress their lands, to maximise its use and try and remain viable as part of the farming community. This is next to nigh possible with current restrictions.
“I believe now is the time to reassess all this. I believe the current CAP deal has scope within it to do so, there is no reason in my mind why this bird cannot coexist with some forestry and windfarms”, said Cllr Sheahan.
Since time began the world and all its components have evolved said the cathaoirleach.
“Charles Darwin proved this, the Hen Harrier will also evolve with changes we make. Landowners should be given the discretion they require to introduce a proper mix of activity and those who are adversely affected adequately compensated.
“Budget 2014 is coming earlier this year to suit the new fiscal treaty for Europe. I have written to the relevant ministers seeking a meeting to address this on behalf of the affected landowners of CountyLimerick”, said Cllr Sheahan.
“Budget 2014 should be the deadline for this and if nothing happens by then ‘open season’ should be declared on the Hen Harrier”, concluded Cllr Sheahan.

The Hen Harrier is a species of high conservation concern in Ireland  (as it is in the UK), and is protected under regional, national and international legislation. We believe it is wrong that anyone, not least someone in a position of influence and responsibility such as a council chair, should be making comments inciting people to break the law and illegal persecute Hen Harriers (or indeed any other birds of prey).
Councillor Sheahan can be reached via email at jsheahan@limerickcoco.ie if you would like to share your opinions on his comments with him.

Update: It emerged this evening that Councillor Sheahan represents Ireland at the EU Committee of the Regions a body that ' represents local and regional government in the EU policy formation and decision-making processes'. Ironically and given the comments attributed to him in the report rather worryingly his 'commissions' are on the Environment and Natural Resources groups. We have no doubt that many in Ireland will be wondering how someone who holds wildlife in such poor regard could represent the interests of Ireland's environment fairly and responsibly.

Original Source: Raptor Persecution Scotland

No comments: