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Dispute and resolution

Under the terms of the EU Habitats Directive 1992, Irish raised bogs are to be fully protected from exploitation, which includes turfcutting.

A 10-year derogation delayed the implementation of the directive.

The expiry of the derogation led to a protracted dispute between the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht and local turf cutters, contractors and bog owners, especially in parts of the midlands and west.

A template for resolution was drawn up with the help of organisations such as Irish Rural Link.

The terms of the resolution included a menu of options:

-Compensation: Tenants who enter an agreement with the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht not to cut turf in the restricted areas will get an annual index linked payment of €1,000 each year for 15 years.

-Relocation: Tenants who sign the agreement can alternatively be granted access to another bog to cut turf in accordance with their current turbary rights.

-Direct supply: In cases where a bog is not available or convenient and where signatories do not want monetary compensation, they can avail of a supply of turf commensurate with the amount provided under their current turbary rights.

There isn't unanimous agreement among the turfcutters in relation to the resolution and many want to continue cutting turf in their original bogs.

Paddy Concannon points out that there is no provision in the resolution for the loss of income suffered by the contractors.

Indo Farming