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Independent.ie

Friday 9 December 2016

Government holds firm on bog turf cutting ban

Declan O'Brien

Published 12/04/2011 | 05:00

The Government has insisted that it will not row back on the decision to prevent turf cutting on 55 raised bogs in the midlands and west.

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While an independent Peatlands Council has been announced with the aim of drawing up a national strategy for the country's bogs, ministers confirmed that the decision of the previous government to stop turf cutting on designated bogs will not be revisited.

The last government banned turf cutting on 31 raised bog SACs from 2010 and on a further 24 raised bog SACs from the end of this year. This decision was strongly opposed by land owners and turf cutting contractors in the affected areas.

"The decision of the last government to bring an effective 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.

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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.

Wildlife

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 management 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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