Over €3m paid out to turfcutters affected by EU habitat restrictions
More than €3 million has been paid out in compensation to turfcutters, who have been affected by restrictions in a EU habitats directive.
Some 2,008 turf cutters have received annual payments of €1,500 each and 180 turf deliveries which have been made to applicants at a total cost of €3,282,232.
Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan said 687 turfcutters were compensated in Roscommon at a cost of more than €1 million with just under 200 applications yet to be processed.
An EU habitats directive has imposed restrictions on turf cutting due to environmental damage on 53 bogs which are designated areas of special conservation.
A derivation was allowed for Irish bogs for 10 years but that has since expired and the State has offered compensation to those turfcutters who have had to stop cutting their bogs.
Mr Feighan said the issue had been “difficult and emotional” for those affected, but he said there had been large scale compliance with the measures.
He said “extensive engagement” had taken place between the Department of Heritage and representatives of each bog to relocate approximately 200 turfcutters in Roscommon.
However, independent TD Luke Flanagan, who is public relations officer of the Turfcutters and Contractors Association, said many of those who received compensation had not cut bogs for years and widespread turfcutting was still going on.
Many of those who were offered alternative bogs were offered them on inferior terms to what they had already, he said.