Government holds firm on bog turf cutting ban
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.
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.