Following the first half from CaptainVertigo
"The word “generally” in the rules is presumably there to mean: do this except when it is obviously stupid. What could be more obviously stupid than forcing relatively poor small farmers to expend thousands of euro they can’t afford, along with hundreds of hours of back-breaking work, just to ruin walks and views and thereby damage tourism?
For walkers, the fencing causes problems where there were none before. There’s the problem of getting around or over fences though, in reality, an extra layer of absurdity is added by the fact that, in these exposed places, the fences tend to fall down anyway. More seriously, the fences create unnecessary tensions between walkers and farmers: once a mountain has been fenced farmers fear that they have become liable for insurance claims and walkers become “trespassers”.
This is a situation that calls for nothing more than common sense but common sense turns out to be vanishingly rare. In Northern Ireland, which operates under exactly the same EU rules, officials decided that there is no need to force hill farms to put fences up mountains. In the Republic, however, the Department of Agriculture has been withholding payments from farmers who don’t do it. This has devastating consequences: I’ve come across one case of a man who was inspected in 2011, found not to have put fences on the mountain and had three years’ payments totalling €90,000 withheld.
Farmers are rightly furious, so how do we solve the problem? By applying common sense? No, by appeasing the irate farmers with public money. In September, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney announced funding of “at least €1.5 million” for “the erection of certain types of sheep fencing in mountainous areas”. A farmer can get up 40 per cent of the cost, up to a maximum of €10,000. We can’t afford respite care for the parents of autistic children but we can spend “at least” €1.5 million putting barbed wire across the top of the Blue Stacks and Magillicuddy’s Reeks. Presumably when they all blow down, we’ll announce sheep fence refurbishment grants of at least the same again.
This is the kind of craziness you get when officials answer to nobody and Ministers unthinkingly obey the bureaucracy. The Minister could cut this mountain of madness tomorrow. Mr Coveney, tear down these fences."