Access to walks and beaches impeded by fences in Donegal, says group

Hundreds of acres of uplands in Co Donegal have been fenced by farmers in compliance with area aid requirements imposed by the Department of Agriculture.

That is according to campaign group Friends of the Irish Environment, which claims the fences block walking trails, and impede access to beaches, hills, lakes and rivers.

The group has written to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney expressing “urgent and specific concern” at the fencing requirements.

According to the group, department officials have been advising farmers that under the Single Area Payments Scheme and the Rural Environmental Protection schemes 3 and 4, they must erect permanent fencing of their lands to qualify.

The group told Mr Coveney the fencing included lands habitually open to the public for “recreational purposes or as a means of access to seashore, mountain, lake shore, riverbank or other place of natural beauty or recreational utility”.

The group told The Irish Times such fencing also required planning permission. The group said a verbal check with Donegal County Council had revealed “no such planning applications have been received in the last five years”, despite the fact that hundreds of acres there had been fenced off.