24.05.11 Minister Deenihan signals action on illegal turf-cutting
Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today Tuesday (24 May) briefed the Government on implementation of the restrictions on turf-cutting on 31 raised bog Special Areas of Conservation which was announced in May 2010 and confirmed by the new Government in April. Minister Deenihan welcomed the fact that no turf-cutting had taken place on the majority of the bogs in question but noted that there had been cutting detected on a number of the sites.
Minister Deenihan stated that enforcement action would be taken where turf cutting has continued on these sites. Land-owners, turbary right owners and contractors have been informed of the restrictions applying to these sites through direct correspondence and public advertisement.
“The Government has put in place compensation arrangements and is working with turf-cutting representatives to identify alternative bog sites for those who wish to relocate.” said Minister Deenihan. “We have established the Peatlands Council where peoples’ legitimate concerns are being addressed”. “However, we cannot tolerate people breaking the law. Ireland has legal obligations to provide protection to these sites and this is what we must do,” he added. “Further damage to these sites risks Ireland being brought to task in the European Court of Justice and may result in substantial fines against us. This is something the country simply cannot afford. We must also demonstrate to the majority who have ceased cutting that their good citizenship will not be undermined by those who wish to break the law. ”
Minister Deenihan has directed his officials to investigate illegal turf-cutting by contractors or individuals who may have breached the restrictions applying to these sites. Prosecutions will be pursued where appropriate. Sanctions available to the Government include prosecution under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, prosecution under the European Communities (Environmental Liability) Regulations 2008 and cross compliance reporting which may affect payments to farmers who are found to have cut turf illegally.
Minister Deenihan is available for interview by phoning 087 2908193