Almost third of special bogs have been ruined - Minister

 

Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan said almost a third of the 53 raised bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation are now irreparably damaged.

Although the 53 SAC-designated bogs are protected under the EU habitats directive, many turf cutters – who claim the Government has failed to provide suitable alternatives – have continued to cut turf.

Thanking cutters who had availed of alternative Government offers, Mr Deenihan issued a warning to those who continued to cut turf illegally.

“There is huge financial implications for some people. That would be farmers and drawing down Single Farm Payments, and then there is the prospect of court proceedings if they broke the law,” he said.

“I would appeal to those other people who have broken the law this year to review what they have done and to come onside for next year and accept the compensation,” he remarked.

In Clara, Co Offaly, turf cutters took issue with the Government’s handling of the matter. Seán Minnock said the Government had a policy of not compensating those who, he said, had abided by the law and ceased cutting turf five or more years ago.

Another turf cutter, Tom Maher, said larger stakeholders were being “unfairly treated” and would only receive similar compensation to smaller holders.

Noel Conroy asked why the Government designated 13 per cent of raised bogs when 5 per cent would have met the habitats directive. Mr Deenihan said the designation, “only includes 2 per cent of the total bog accessible for cutting on”.