Ireland — The chairman of Ireland’s largest farming union has called on the Minister for Heritage to improve the offer to farmers being forced to cease turf cutting.
The Irish Farmer’s Association Project Chairman Padraic Divilly made the appeal to Minister Jimmy Deenihan as farmers in 51 designated SAC bogs are told to stop cutting.
Mr Divilly said that following a meeting with Minister Deenihan, the compensation on offer must be doubled from 1,000 to 2,000, and must apply for the lifetime of the bog with a minimum of 30 years and must not be restricted to the current 15 years deadline.
Padraic Divilly said that before any deal is offered, every option must be given to turf-cutters. This would involve relocation for those who want to cut turf.
The supply of turf should also be provided for those that see it as the preferred option, where relocation is not suitable,” Mr Divilly said. He added: “Also a proper reimbursement scheme should be available for the loss of cutting rights.
In the case of relocation, Mr Divilly said a disturbance payment must be offered as, in a lot of cases, the relocated bog is a long way from the restricted bog. Also, a 100% grant should be available to those who want to install an alternative heating system and/or insulation where necessary.
The restrictions on turf cutting were introduced after a government funded four-year report, called Boglands, which found though peat soils cover 20% of the national land area, there were no more intact raised bogs in Ireland while very few peatlands remain in their natural state.
According to the document, peatlands are Irelands last great area of wilderness and the management of the peatlands was not sustainable in either past or present time.
Last year, the Government was forced to take action on the cessation of turf cutting on 53 designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) raised bogs, to ensure Ireland would not be subject to legal action and potentially serious fines in the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Government has held a consistent line on this issue since taking office that all cutting must cease on Irelands 53 designated raised bog SACs.