Wednesday 21 February 2018

'€1,000 won't cover cost of oil for a year'

Paul Melia

BRID and John Fahy own 10 acres of bog at Cappagh, Kilkerran, in Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

For three generations the family has gathered fuel, but this is the last year they will be allowed to harvest.

Their land is in an area classed as a Special Area of Conservation and a 10-year derogation negotiated by Ireland to a European Union ban on turf cutting in such areas has expired.

In return for giving up their rights, they will receive €1,000 annually for the next 15 years. But that won't cover the cost of oil to heat their home.

"The Department of Environment wrote to us last year and said we could no longer cut turf because the bog was in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC)," Mrs Fahy said last night.

"It was just a confirmation letter. We were told the derogation from the EU had ended, but you wouldn't buy oil with €1,000 a year with the prices now.

"This the the third generation. We have about 10 acres and cut turf for our house, my mother-in-law who's 91 and my son who got married this year.

"What's cut is for our own use but this is the last time we can cut. I don't know what we'll do. We haven't even thought that far ahead. We're 29 years married and had the range since day one, we wouldn't know any different," she added.

The family farms 60 acres, and many of their neighbours are also affected.

Mrs Fahy described the ban as "ridiculous", saying she has no problem with commercial cutters being banned but it's unfair to single out families.

"If they do bogs, what's next? Do they tell us to not have hens or ducks?" she said.

Irish Independent

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