Minister Deenihan updates Cabinet on progress on turf issue
Tuesday, October 8th – Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has updated the Cabinet on progress made over the course of 2013 on the issue of turf cutting on protected Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).
Minister Deenihan has outlined the following points:
Incidents of unauthorised turf cutting on raised bog SACs this year declined by over 45% compared with 2012;
Over 3,800 individual compensation payments have been made since the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme was introduced by Government in 2011;
292 deliveries of turf have been made to homes;
Over €6 million has been paid to affected turf cutters under the scheme; and,
790 turf cutters have indicated that they are interested in relocation and work is ongoing in sourcing relocation sites for these applicants.
Minister Deenihan has also outlined that he intends to publish a draft National Peatlands Strategy, a draft National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan, and a Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) before the end of 2013.
Minister Deenihan commented:
“We are continuing to make progress on this issue. That is vital, as Ireland is at risk of daily fines of up to €25,000 if we fail to preserve raised bogs that are protected by Irish and European law. I want to thank the turf cutters who are working with me and my Department.”
The development of a National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan was called for in a unanimous vote in Dáil Éireann in 2012, in a motion which called on the Government to “engage actively with the European Commission to seek a resolution within the terms of the Habitats Directive, and to prepare and submit a National Raised Bog Restoration Plan to the Commission as a matter of urgency”. The development of this National Plan was also a key recommendation of Mr Justice John Quirke in the Peatlands Forum Report.
In the case of the Review of NHAs, in 2010 the then Government decided that turf-cutting would come to an end on all raised bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) at the end of 2013. However, the 2011 Programme for Government undertook to review this. This is what is being done now, and a team of consultants has been appointed to progress the completion of this review. This review is underway and is making good progress.