Gov­ern­ment holds firm on bog turf cut­ting ban

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

end to turf cut­ting on 31 raised bog SACs from 2010 and on a fur­ther 24 SACs from the end of this year must be im­ple­mented,” said the Min­is­ter for Arts, Her­itage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deeni­han.

“Fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish the Peat­lands Coun­cil, the Gov­ern­ment will make fur­ther an­nounce­ments in the com­ing days in re­la­tion to the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age which is be­ing put in place,” he added.

The Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Phil Ho­gan, claimed that the ab­sence of a clear pol­icy on the bogs had re­sulted in the EU Com­mis­sion threat­en­ing in­fringe­ment pro­ceed­ings against Ire­land.

Mr Ho­gan said the Peat­lands Coun­cil, which will have rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a range of ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tions, will bring a more bal­anced ap­proach to the is­sue.

It will be tasked with ad­vis­ing the Gov­ern­ment on a num­ber of the is­sues, in­clud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial ban on turf cut­ting on the raised bogs.

The non-statu­tory body will be chaired by Conor Ske­han, who is a lec­turer with Dublin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy’s school of spa­tial plan­ning and a for­mer di­rec­tor of Bord na Mona. Mem­bers are also be­ing in­vited from a range of the ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the IFA, the Ir­ish Peat­land Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil, the Turf Cut­ters and Con­trac­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, the Ir­ish Ru­ral Link, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ir­ish En­vi­ron­ment Net­work, Bord na Mona and the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice.

The coun­cil’s brief is to draw up a na­tional strat­egy on peat­lands con­ser­va­tion and man- age­ment within 12 months, in con­sul­ta­tion with bog own­ers and other stake­hold­ers.

In ad­di­tion it is to deal with long-term is­sues such as land man­age­ment, restora­tion, con­ser­va­tion, tourism po­ten­tial, car­bon ac­count­ing and com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in man­ag­ing this re­source.

“It is vi­tally im­por­tant that the views of turf cut­ters and land own­ers are brought much more cen­trally into de­ci­sion mak­ing on these mat­ters,” said Min­is­ter Ho­gan.

“ The lack of clear direc­tion has not served turf cut­ters or con­ser­va­tion in­ter­ests well, and has led the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to com­mence in­fringe­ment pro­ceed­ings against Ire­land on this is­sue. I have met with En­vi­ron­ment Com­mis­sioner Po­toc­nik twice in re­cent weeks to dis­cuss this se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion,” said Min­is­ter Ho­gan.

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