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22 of Ireland’s 53 protected bogs still being openly cut breaching EU law

category national | environment | press release author Wednesday January 08, 2020 10:58author by foie Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 6th Jan 2020

Turf cutting on protected raised bogs reported to the European Commission.
22 of Ireland’s 53 protected bogs still being openly cut breaching EU law

Ireland’s failure to protect the 53 bogs designated for protection under the Habitats Directive in 1997 has been reported to Virginijus Sinkevicius, the newly appointed Director General for Environment. [1]

A spokesman for Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE], who first brought the illegal cutting to the attention of the Commission in 2009, said in fact almost half of the protected bogs ‘continue to be systematically destroyed by industrial machinery’.

75% of Ireland’s national carbon store is held by Ireland’s peaty soils, releasing greenhouse gases when extracted and again when burnt.

‘The Government’s own 2019 Report to the EU in August on ‘The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland’, prepared by the National Parks and Wildlife Service every 7 years, records continued cutting at 22 of the existing Special Area of Conservation [SAC] sites and 6 of the proposed National Heritage Area [NHA] sites’. [2]

‘The State has confirmed to members of the Peatlands Council that the number of plots cut in the raised bog SACs in 2019 was 282. The turf cutters themselves now openly boast of ‘the fantastic amount of turf cut in the 53 bogs in 2019’ on their Facebook page.’ [3]

Proceedings against Ireland for its failure to protect the designated raised bogs were closed in 2013 by the European Commission based on ‘enforcement actions by the National Parks and Wildlife Service’, including ‘70 flights in 2012’, ‘quick detection and prevention in many instances’ with ‘9 different Garda investigations underway’. [4]

CONTACTS
Tony Lowes: 353 (0) 87 2176316
David Healy [Irish language]: 353 (0)87 6178852

Notes
Significant efforts were made by the State to resolve the issue based on the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme established in 2011. 2,569 applicants are regularly receiving annual payments for 15 years under the scheme of €1500 (index linked) a year or 15 tons of turf. The state is spending €4.5m a year with €30m expended by July 2019. [5]

RELOCATION OVERULED
Of the 263 cutters who have applied for relocation only 72 have been relocated from 11 of the 53 bogs. A case taken by An Taisce and FIE led to a September 2019 ruling by An Bord Pleanala rejecting the Minister for Heritage’s application to relocate 9 of the turf cutters. The Board overruled the Inspector’s view that ‘the scale of the works proposed is small and the impacts are not considered to be significant’, stating that ‘over the lifetime of the project, it would contribute both directly and indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst cognisant that there were conflicting national policies applicable to the proposal, the Board considered that the proposed development was in contravention of the national climate action policy objective to achieve transition to a low-carbon energy system.’ [6]

DERROGATION IN ‘PUBLIC INTEREST' PROPOSED
‘Not only does the Minister refuse to recognize the Board’s decision, but she now has told Michael Healy Rae on 12 November stating that the Government was considering applying Article 6.4 of the Habitats Directive to 14 of the original 53 protected bogs. This allows an activity take place on the grounds that a plan or project must nevertheless be carried out for ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’. [7] ‘To suggest that the exploitation of our bogs can be justified as in the ‘overriding public interest’ is politics at its worst.’

FIE recently had two Statutory Instruments from Minister for Climate Richard Bruton and Minister for Planning Eoghan Murphy struck down. They purported to allow industrial peat extractors to continue without planning permission and a licence from the EPA for up to a further 3 years. [8]

FIE Director Caroline Lewis’s letter to the Commissioner concludes by quoting Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Commission Mission’s letter to the Commissioner of 1 December 2019:
‘Given that any legislation is only as good as its implementation, I want you to focus on the application and enforcement of EU law within your field. You should provide support and continuous guidance to Member States on implementation, and be ready to take swift action if EU law is breached.’

ENDS

NOTES
[1] FIE letter to EU link https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/peat/CHAP_SAC_cutting_2019.pdf
[2] ‘The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland’ https://www.npws.ie/publications/article-17-reports/article-17-reports-2019
[3] Facebook page in Library link http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/peat/FIE_TURF_FACEBOOK.pdf
[4] Closure letter in library http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/peat/pre-closure_letter.pdf
[5] Dáil debates, Thursday, 12 December 2019 https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2019-12-12a.102&s=turf+cutters#g105
[6] FIE PR on turf cutting relocation https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17698-minister-s-turf-cutters-relocation-contravention-of-the-nationa...ctive And December 24 letter to Minister on relocation: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/peat/Minister_relocation_3012198.pdf
[7] Written answers: Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Data, Wednesday, 4 December 2019
https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2019-12-04a.658&s=turf
[8] FIE PR on Judgment of High Court
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17706-minister-s-statutory-peat-regulations-dissolved-by-high-court

This Press Release https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17745-turf-cutting-on-protected-raised-bogs-reported-to-the-european-...ssion https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17745-turf-cutting-on-protected-raised-bogs-reported-to-the-european-...ssion
Copyright © 2020 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

Our mailing address is:
Friends of the Irish Environment
Kilcatherine
Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53
Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17745-turf-cutting-on-protected-raised-bogs-reported-to-the-european-commission
author by fredpublication date Sat Jan 18, 2020 03:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What about all the little people who rely on cutting a bit of turf to keep them warm in the cold Irish winters? Should they just freeze? Who the fuck do these Brussels bureaucrats think they are?
I know one thing. They won't be the ones freezing on their huge salaries
taken out of those same little people's taxes!

author by darby o gillpublication date Sun Jan 26, 2020 14:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bejapers little folk these days don't actually have to rely on a bit of turf cutting to keep from freezing.

Under the EU-approved National Fuel Allowance Scheme you can get help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months.
 EU citizens resident in Ireland are entitled to Fuel Allowance as well .

author by fredpublication date Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yeah, you really believe that'll last? It's just a temporary inducement.
And it won't cover the cost of imported winter fuel.
The Irish have cut turf for their heating needs for centuries.
They shouldn't be made to beg and scrape for handouts.

author by darby o gillpublication date Sun Feb 02, 2020 01:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know a lot of proud older people do sometimes feel that way ,Fred but, really, you wont be begging , it's an entitlement . Don't go cold this winter

author by fredpublication date Tue Feb 11, 2020 00:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You and your kind are cynical fuckers who don't really care about the real lives of ordinary people
You think you are so smart but you're not.

author by darby o gillpublication date Tue Feb 11, 2020 20:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm a real person and have nothing at all against ordinary people like yourself Fred . That is why I gave you what I thought to be good advice on claiming what is your RIGHT to a supplementary fuel allowance .Older people will often get the impression that by taking the allowance they are accepting handouts .Once again, that isn't the case.Put your pride aside ,Fred ,it's your entitlement !

author by Murtpublication date Wed Feb 12, 2020 14:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I get 23 euro per week fuel allowance for six months of the year. Currently it buys me a bag of coal (18 euro) and a bale of briquettes (4.5 euro). The coal merchant delivers to my back garden bunker. I generally buy an extra bale of briquettes and a bag of kindling used to get a fire started. Some fuel allowance is better than no fuel allowance. Boxes of matches are also extra.

author by darby o gillpublication date Thu Feb 13, 2020 15:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it is still possible to enjoy a day in the bog without damaging the environment ,you should give it a try Fred -you may even find that helping to preserve Ireland's peatlands for younger generations to enjoy adds to your own enjoyment ! (We do recommend a good pair of walking shoes or boots especially in winter months ).

Young- at -heart seniors and those with mobility issues , can take the Irish Peatland Conservation Council's virtual tour of the magnificent Bog of Allen ,the largest raised peat bog in Ireland, here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=14&v=ojS9yC3WVE8&feature=emb_logo

author by fredpublication date Fri Feb 14, 2020 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

cynical Green middle class bullshitters and their middle class guilt policies based on poor science
will end up causing the death of Irish old and poor people from hypothermia.
But what do they care as they won't be people from their voting demographic.

dark ages, bare feet , bicycles and guilt for the poor while the corporates ride roughshod over us all with their blessing.
Laughing, immune as they raze the planet to the ground for profits in the new greenwash market!

author by Turpspublication date Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bord na Móna is an iconic Irish company that generated electricity and created thousands of jobs since it was set up as a semi-state company. It has harvested turf mechanically and supplied it and garden peat to the distribution trade, generating downstream jobs around Irish society. Now many areas of the Bog of Allen are used up. Some of these areas have been redeveloped as visitor centres and nature reserves, but a lot of other bog remains intact. The state ultimately owns the bog, not B na M. Used bog and unharvested bog can be put to many imaginative and job-creating uses. Biomass can be grown. Mass production of vegetables under glass and PVC tunnels can be undertaken - just look at what the Dutch have been doing for a hundred years or more. New towns could be built and resettlement of urban people facilitated. Holiday centres could be established. Put imagination in power if we want OUR Bog of Allen to continue to serve Irish society profitably. It's too important to be left to Bord na Móna.

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