The use of liability insurance policies to compensate private landowners in mountainous areas, which allow access to their land for recreational purposes, is to be tested by the Ministry of Rural and Community Development.
Calling the issue “complex,” the ministry said it had been told that a compensation scheme would require legislative provision and that a number of laws may need to be amended.
A liability insurance policy was taken out for the two existing areas of the Mountain Access project – the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry and Binn Sléibhe in Galway – and went into effect on August 13.
This pilot solution was developed in consultation with Comhairle na Tuaithe and is being implemented on a two-year trial basis.
“There are some practical implementation issues to be finalized and these will be addressed by Comhairle na Tuaithe in the coming weeks,” said a spokesperson for the department.
“The policy represents a substantial step forward for landowners in the two affected Mountain Access Project areas, who now have access to liability insurance in relation to the use of their land by individual walkers / hikers. “
Other options regarding compensation and potential changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act will continue to be explored.
Minister Heather Humphreys has also committed to working more with the Attorney General on the matter, and the ministry is also working to explore how the Mountain Access Project model can be extended to other areas.
The IFA wants the insurance / compensation to be extended to all pedestrian access areas and for coverage for all farmers to be put in place without further delay.
“Farmers cannot be expected to take the risk, which causes stress and anxiety,” he said.