The Irish Government should recognize that agriculture is stepping up to the mark on climate change and respond itself, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The public representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency told Minister Eamon Ryan this week in the Dail that the Government needs to improve its own response, rather than place more restrictions on rural Ireland.

Speaking on the subject, Fitzmaurice said: “This is a time when communities and especially the agricultural sector are stepping up to the mark when it comes to climate action.

“By contrast, the government is failing to maximize opportunities to meet key climate change targets.”

Continuing, he added: “A group of us from the agriculture committee visited Devenish Farm in Meath. We spent five or six hours going around the farm looking at how it measured hedgerows and carbon on the trees and how it used different types of grasses. It is a carbon-neutral farm. It is one of the main farms of eight or nine throughout the world picked so different universities can study these matters.”

Critically, Fitzmaurice said the farm is able to: “nail down the amount of carbon sequestered in trees or hedgerows by using light detection and ranging, LiDAR, systems on a helicopter.”

“In the past week or two, I have heard that Teagasc – which gets a lot of money from the State – and the Government are not looking at hedgerows in considering the carbon tonnage sequestered around the country. I am led to believe that Teagasc doesn’t have the figures for the carbon sequestered by hedgerows and trees.

“We are looking at carbon budgets, but we still do not know where we are starting because we do not know what is sequestered. It is a damn bad way of doing things and puts pressure on people.

“The agricultural community does not mind stepping up to the mark, but it does not want to have to act with false figures. Why has the Government not brought in expertise from Devenish Farm, which has done all this work, to help Teagasc or the Government itself to formulate more accurate figures?

“I drive every day from Galway and for every yard of the road, there are plenty of hedgerows.

“My understanding is they should be counted for sequestration purposes.

“My understanding was that we were going down that road and we would have it done.

“I have heard in the past week that this will not be one method of offset and farmers will not have this as a mitigating measure when there are so many hedgerows around the country.”

Concluding, the rural TD noted that the consequence of the lack of understanding on this issue was that: ”We are foisting something on farmers without knowing the accurate figures before we start.”

That, he said: “is the very definition of a pointless action.”

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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