Denis Drennan of the ICMSA.

Greenway code of practice ‘a template’ for rural access

The chairperson of the ICMSA Farm and Rural Affairs Committee, Denis Drennan, has said his organisation welcomes agreement on a code of practice for greenway development and that it “hits the desired balance” for farmers and landowners in terms of fair payment and avoidance of what he said would be tiresome and time-consuming CPOs and legal disputes.

The first thing to note is that the code of practice does not undermine a landowner’s legal rights in any way and it is a voluntary option available to a landowner.

Mr Drennan said that, again, farmers had shown themselves to be co-operative and committed to the public good where the fairness was shown to the farmers concerned.

He said that the negotiations had been protracted and involved, and that the working group set up by the Department of Transport had been diligent and conscious of the rights of the farmers and landowners.

He noted that realism and appreciation of the nature of the question contrasted starkly with the atmosphere around other so-called ‘access issues’, where progress was impossible because of unrealistic expectations that farmer-landowners should put aside their rights and property in the interests of visitors or ramblers.

The ICMSA committee chairperson said progress on the greenways provided the template for future discussions on these questions: “Where farmers are consulted and treated with respect, where our rights and property are respected, progress can and will be made.

“The ICMSA believe that the code protects farmers’ rights, and provides clear guidance on the issues with greenways for farmers. Obviously, we think that the use of private property for greenways should be minimised and, where it is unavoidable, the level of disturbance must be kept to an absolute minimum,” concluded Mr Drennan.