Environment Minister Eamon Ryan wants to ban the sale of turf under new solid fuel regulations.
The Green Party leader outlined the move in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin.
Asked by the Kerry TD if persons can continue to cut and sell turf after September 2022 when new rules on solid fuels are due to take effect, Minister Ryan said: “They [the new regulations] are required, as each year, some 1,300 people die prematurely in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning. Research undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency also demonstrates that the contribution of peat to air pollution levels is significant.
“Turf cutting by citizens for use in their own homes is a traditional activity across many peatlands, and while measures are required to reduce the emissions associated with burning peat, these traditions will be respected.
“Therefore, to accommodate those with rights to harvest sod peat, no ban on its cutting or burning will be introduced, but a regulatory provision will be made to prohibit the placing on the market, sale or distribution of sod peat.
“As such, persons who have turbary rights will continue to be permitted to extract peat to heat their own dwelling, but will not be permitted to place it on the market for sale or distribution to others.”
Roscommon-Galway TD and chairperson of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association, Michael Fitzmaurice, has branded the decision to prohibit the sale of sod peat, generally known as turf, as “lunacy”.
He says the “unprecedented move” will cause “significant unease” amongst rural TDs, including those from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
“Are we going down the road where if a person with an elderly neighbour supplies them with a load of turf for free or at cost, that they could be done for distributing turf?
“Are we really going to label generous neighbours the same way we do drug dealers: possession with intent to supply?
“At a time of war in Europe and soaring energy prices, Minister Ryan thinks now is right to prevent hard-pressed people from being able to buy a couple of trailers of turf to warm themselves next winter. This inexcusable act of Government overreach must be resisted.”