Almost €29 million paid to compensate turf-cutters

Management plan for raised bogs published

New management plan for bogs strikes  appropriate balance between protection  and the needs of turf cutters, the Minister for Culture has said. Photograph: Getty Images

New management plan for bogs strikes appropriate balance between protection and the needs of turf cutters, the Minister for Culture has said. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Government has spent €28.7 million to date in compensating turf-cutters on raised boglands concentrated in the Midlands, Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan has confirmed.

The expenditure, aimed at protecting the globally-important ecosystems, was in the form of “annual payments, turf deliveries, the relocation of turf-cutters, and once-off incentive payments”.

Speaking after publication of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, Ms Madigan said the cessation of turf cutting, necessary for the protection of our designated raised bogs, has had an impact on people’s lives.

The plan, she added, “strikes an appropriate balance between Ireland’s legal obligation to protect certain raised bogs and the needs of turf cutters, landowners and other stakeholders within these sites”.

Where domestic turf cutting has had to cease, financial compensation is being provided and feasible alternatives have been and are being sought.

“The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has provided in the region of €28.7million in compensation to those impacted by the cessation of turf cutting on protected raised bogs and is advancing its efforts to relocate turf cutters to suitable non-designated bogs.”

She added: “Ireland has the privileged position of having examples of raised bogs that are deemed to be of importance not only nationally, but also on a European and global level. This plan sets out a roadmap for how our protected raised bogs will be managed, conserved and restored.”

Relocation

A total of 64 turf cutters have been relocated to non-designated bogs. It is anticipated that eight relocation sites will accommodate approximately 89 turf cutters. The department has currently made 13,349 annual payments, 1,740 once-off incentive payments and 994 turf deliveries under the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme (CTCCS) for raised bog special areas of conservation (SACs).

It compensates land owners and turbary right-holders affected by the cessation of turf cutting on the 53 raised bog SACs. In 2014, the scheme was extended to include land owners and turbary right-holders affected by the cessation of turf cutting on 36 raised bog Natural Heritage Areas. A total of 655 annual payments and 39 once-off incentive payments have been made under this category.

The plan sets out how the raised bog SAC network will be restored and rejuvenated in a series of phases in coming years. The recreational, amenity and educational potential of a number of sites will be explored in conjunction with local communities.

“It is my hope that the potential of raised bogs as places of wild natural beauty and biodiversity for communities to come together will be realised,” Ms Madigan said.

Publication of the Irish Wildlife Manual No. 99: Best practice in raised bog restoration in Ireland would provide sound practical guidance to anyone interested in the restoration and management of raised bogs such as landowners and land users, community groups, environmental organisations and any practitioners involved in undertaking restoration measures, she said.