01.06.11 Deenihan welcomes breakthrough by Peatlands Council
Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht welcomed today’s statement from the Peatlands Council which he described as a significant breakthrough in resolving the issue of turf-cutting on designated raised bogs.
Following reports of illegal cutting and severe concern expressed by the Minister, the European Commission and Environmental Non Governmental Organisations, the Council had an emergency meeting today to agree a way forward. The Council has representatives from the Turf Cutting and Contractors Association, the Irish Farmers Association, Irish Rural Link, An Taisce, the Peatlands Conservation Council, Bord na Móna and the Minister’s Department.
The Peatlands Council and all its members accepted that turf cutting could not continue on these bogs and those representing turf contractors agreed to contact their members to ensure that no further cutting would occur. The Council recommended to the Minister that those who had cut turf this year should be allowed to take it home as the damage to these bogs has already occurred and the removal of the turf will not in itself cause any further damage. The Council noted there had been confusion about the cessation issue at the beginning of the year.
Speaking about the breakthrough, the Minister said “I warmly welcome this development and thank Conor Skehan and all the members of the Council for what I understand was a very frank exchange of perspectives but which resulted in a constructive way forward”. “We now have a clear understanding that turf-cutting cannot continue on these sites, that the requirements of the Directive must be met. I also acknowledged that the needs of turf-cutters must be further explored and addressed as soon as possible. All members of the Council are resolved to work together to this end.”
“I have been in touch with Environment Commissioner Potocnik in recent days and I will bring these developments to the attention of the Commissioner without delay”, the Minister added.
“I would like to commend the TCCA, the IFA and Irish Rural Link for their coherent and constructive representation of their members’ interests and also to An Taisce and the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council for their significant contributions to today’s meeting”. I also commend Bord na Móna for its very helpful contribution to this process” Minister Deenihan said.
“I would like to commend all those who refrained from cutting turf this year following the Government’s decision. I would invite all turf-cutters in these sites to engage with my Department, which will host local clinics over the coming weeks in order to progress compensation and relocation arrangements” the Minister stated.