New proposed routes for the M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick have taken many farmers by surprise.
The 500m-wide corridors cross valuable farmland and, while the routes are still only at proposal stage, they are already having an impact on farms, with planning for sheds and parlours stalled and fears of farms being split.
Organisers of the project say the 500m-wide corridors will be narrowed once the planning stage is reached, with hopes of a preferred route being selected by mid-2021 and a submission to An Bord Pleanála going ahead in 2023.
But the proposed motorway routes also include a railway line that would require compulsory purchase orders on farmland, which has caused concern for landowners and added to a perceived lack of consultation.
Organisers say data protection rules prevented them from addressing letters to named landowners but they still sent over 5,000 letters to the “occupier” on proposed routes.
However, farmers have told the Irish Farmers Journal that many of them have not received letters and with COVID-19 preventing neighbourhood meetings, many people in the area are becoming increasingly concerned that farmers will not have their say on the motorway.
Richard Laffan Fedamore, Co Limerick
“It’s one of the rail lines that is impacting us. It’s coming up straight though the farm and farmyard.
“We’re dairy farming and we had planned on building a milking parlour this year but we missed out on planning approval because of the M20 proposal. I was told planning would be denied straight away.
“We’re still going to apply for a TAMS grant before the deadline in January but we can’t apply for the parlour so we’re caught in that way.
“They could decide in six months’ time they won’t do the rail line and it won’t impact us at all but at the minute we’re just watching and waiting. I came home to farm full-time in the last few months and feel we have very little say over it at all.”
Liam Leahy Attyflinn, Limerick
“We have an outside farm that’s sitting in the plum route. It’s taking two fields off us there and our home farm is being cut through as well.
“Four generations have been here and we just put up a new milking parlour. If the motorway comes straight through the farm that would make it non-viable.
“It cuts out one-third of the farm and what’s the point if we don’t have the grass to feed the cows we’re milking? My sister was also planning on building a house on the off-farm in Manister but she’s been told she’ll have planning issue.
“It’s very hard on farm families and I think it will rumble on for four or five years.”
The closing date for submissions is 15 January.
Post: N/M20 Project Office,