Dispute over turf-cutting
Sir, – Paddy Woodworth (Opinion, August 2nd) is right to call our peatlands a tragedy of the commons. However, it is a tragedy peopled not just by so-called “domestic” turf-cutters and contractors but also by large operators and international companies such as Bord na Móna, Klasmann-Deilmann, Bulrush, Westland, Harte and Clover, albeit that these latter are not cutting on designated raised bogs.
As long ago as 1987, the Union of Professional and Technical Civil Servants commented, “The need to safeguard as many midland (raised) bogs as possible before they are lost forever to peat extraction is the most urgent issue in Irish nature conservation.” Yet extraction has continued apace without planning controls and without an impact of the environmental damage through the licensing system.
The latest figures reveal that we lost 38 per cent of active raised bog between 1995 and 2013. In March this year Bord na Móna admitted it has only 40 more years of peat left in its bogs.
These are shocking figures. Tomorrow’s Ireland will judge us very harshly if we do not act urgently to tackle peat extraction. As Paddy Woodworth rightly notes, community involvement in restoration will be key. – Yours, etc,
Friends of the Irish