Hogan urged to act on illegal turf sales

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan has been warned that illegal turf-cutters are selling their produce door-to-door and he has been asked to introduce legislation to prevent the practice.

Mr Hogan’s Fine Gael colleague, Senator Cáit Keane, has written to the Minister to alert him to reports of the practice she has received from Co Galway.

“I am proposing that you introduce legislation to make it mandatory for anyone turf-cutting and selling turf at doors to have a licence and be able to display it openly,” she said.

Ms Keane, who is Seanad spokeswoman on the environment and local government, suggested to Mr Hogan that the licence she proposed could also be displayed on the vehicle in which the cutter is operating from.

“The introduction of legislation to govern this area would have a positive impact in curtailing and perhaps obliterating illegal turf- cutters operating in Ireland. It would act as a deterrent for those who are involved in the practice,” she said. The State gave a commitment to the European Commission that there would be no more turf-cutting on 53 raised bogs.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who has responsibility for the area, warned in April the EU Commission could impose fines of up to €25,000 a day on Ireland if turf-cutting occurred on bogs designated as special areas of conservation under the European habitats directive.

Mr Hogan has yet to respond to Ms Keane’s representation.

Separately, turf-cutters banned from using certain bogs have begun receiving free turf as part of a compensation deal. They are entitled to a concession worth €23,000, spread over 15 years, with a once-off payment of €500.