08/08/12 – Deenihan welcomes progress in turf compensation scheme
• More than 1,000 compensation payments now made, totalling more than €1.5 million in payments to-date
• More than 70% of applicants for compensation opt for financial payment
August 8th, 2012 – Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has welcomed the fact that the number of compensation payments made to turf cutters affected by the cessation of turf cutting on 53 raised bog special areas of conservation has now exceeded 1,000.
Under the compensation scheme, affected turf cutters will receive €1,500 per annum for 15 years. In addition, a once-off sign up bonus of €500 will also be paid this year on completion of a legal agreement between the turf cutter and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The total financial compensation package over the 15 years period amounts to €23,000, index linked and tax free.
With more than 1,000 applications for compensation now processed, the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme has paid out more than €1.5 million to affected turf cutters this year. Each of these turf cutters will also receive the further €500 payment when the legal agreements are concluded.
In place of financial compensation, affected turf cutters can opt to relocate to another bog, if available, where they can continue to cut turf lawfully. Whilst relocation bogs are being sought, turf cutters can opt for the financial compensation or a delivery of 15 tonnes of turf to their home. In June, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht awarded a contract for the sourcing and delivery of turf and these deliveries have been underway since then.
More than 2,300 applications for compensation in total have been made to the Department and these are being processed as quickly as possible. Of these, 676 – or 29% – have sought relocation to another bog. The remaining applications are for financial compensation.
Minister Deenihan commented:
“Progress has been made on the turf issue this year. The majority of affected turf cutters have worked with us, and I want to pay tribute to those who are engaging with my Department to access either financial compensation or an alternative location where they can continue to cut turf legally.
“There is still a lot of work to do – more than 1,000 applications for compensation are being processed, alternative bogs are being researched, and an entire national plan for the long term approach to the 53 protected raised bogs is to be developed.
“However, as I have consistently said, by working together to implement the Irish and European law that protects the 53 special raised bogs we can arrive at a point where these unique habitats are preserved whilst ensuring that turf cutters have financial compensation, or turf, or an alternative location to cut. We are moving closer to that point.
“One of my core priorities has been to put in place a fair and easily accessible compensation and relocation scheme for affected turf cutters. I welcome the fact that this scheme has now delivered a financial injection of more than €1.5 million to homes across rural Ireland, and acknowledge again those cutters who are working with us in a cooperative way.”