Dept braced for turf ban revolt
IFA demands compensation for farmers
ENVIRONMENT MINISTER John Gormley faces a sustained campaign against the new ban on turf-cutting on raised bogs unless he introduces an adequate compensation package, the IFA has warned.
With some turf cutters threatening to go to jail in defiance of the ban, the IFA said Mr Gormley must significantly strengthen the compensation package on offer to families and individuals affected by the ban, which took immediate effect from last week.
"Failure to do so will lead to a massive rejection of his attempts to stop turf cutting on 25,000ac of bog next year," said IFA conservation spokesman Padraic Divilly.
"The €1,000 offer to bog owners who have been stopped from cutting turf this year is some recognition of the value of turf extraction for home use, but turf cutters must be given other options," said Mr Divilly.
"These should include being allowed to cut turf for domestic purpose, relocation to other bogs with compensation, a 100pc grant for installation of alternative domestic heating systems and the opportunity for the purchase of their bogs by the National Parks and Wildlife Service."
Mr Gormley last week announced plans to ban cutting on 32 raised bogs classed as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) where wildlife is protected.
Similar bans will take effect on 24 more SACs by the end of next year, followed by another 75 Natural Heritage Areas at the end of 2013, as 10-year derogations that Ireland had negotiated with the EU are set to run out. Mr Gormley stated that Ireland could be fined millions by the EU for non- compliance.
But the Turf Cutters and Contractors Associaton (TCCA) said the new bans are the result of a "flawed" and "farcical" consultation process between Government and the turf cutters.