16.06.11 Deenihan Responds to Commission decision to issue Reasoned Opinion in relation to turf cutting in Ireland.
Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, responded today (Thursday 16 June 2011) to the decision of the European Commission to send Ireland a Reasoned Opinion in relation to the implementation of legislation that protects peat bog habitats. “Since coming into office this Government has taken resolute action in relation to the protection of Ireland’s peatland habitats,” stated Minister Deenihan. “This action has been acknowledged in the press statement issued by the Commission today. However, the Commission have also clearly stated that it will be progress on the ground which determines the next steps in this case.”
“Within weeks of coming into office the Government established a compensation scheme for turf-cutters who were required to cease cutting turf and established an independently-chaired Peatlands Council independently chaired by Conor Skehan, comprising all the relevant interests. The Government also agreed that a national peatlands strategy would be drawn up to address the long term conservation and management of Ireland’s peatland heritage”.
“In addition, on 1 June, all members of the Peatlands Council, including environmental non-governmental organisations and turf cutting interests agreed to work together to resolve all issues of compliance in relation to the Habitats Directive. This agreement included, for the first time, a clear acceptance from all parties that turf-cutting cannot continue on SAC raised bogs. I have also put in place a system of monitoring to ensure that no further cutting takes place on the affected bogs.”
“Both myself and Minister Hogan have engaged positively with Environment Commissioner Potocnik on these issues in recent months and I look forward to continuing that contact over the coming period.”
“I believe we have demonstrated real progress on the ground over the past 2 months or so and having acknowledged that this issue will continue to remain a priority of this Government. With ongoing cooperation of all the interests on the Peatlands Council I believe we can address both the Commission’s concerns and also those of affected turf-cutters.” Minister Deenihan concluded.