Planned indemnity scheme to protect landowners against claims by walkers to focus on upland areas initially
A proposed National Indemnity Scheme to indemnify private landowners against claims by walkers will only come into effect in upland areas initially on a phased basis, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring has said.
Officials in his Department have sought advice from the Attorney General’s Office and Minister Micheal Ring has highlighted that the issue is “complex”.
“The legal rights of landowners must be respected while trying to facilitate access to their lands for recreational users on a permissive basis.
“The introduction of such a scheme is a key priority for my Department to support the continued provision of access to the countryside for recreational users.
“My Department has been advised that an indemnity scheme such as the one envisaged will require legislative provision.
“In this context, my officials have sought advice from the Attorney General’s Office on the proposed scope, roll-out, and the legal processes required to give effect to such a scheme.
“Further contact between officials is likely to take place over the coming weeks on the matter,” he said.
Farmers that work Ireland’s spawling upland areas have raised concerns in relation to land access and issues around liability.
In a recent meeting with Minister Ring the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association said pointed to a substantial increase in the numbers accessing our hills for recreational purposes which have increased from 168,000 in 2003 to almost 2.35 million in 2018.
National Vice President Henry O’Donnell said that in recognising the considerable bonus this provides for the local and national economy, there is he stated “a strong feeling amongst farmers that they are left out once again with some of the opinion that they are starting to feel over-run by the ever increasing number of people walking their hills.”
“We appreciate how a thriving tourism industry can benefit local communities and the country as a whole.”
However, he said there also needs to be the realisation that these hills are privately owned and seen by those landowners as business and farms with the primary objective being the production and maintenance of livestock.