Taoiseach asked to stand over his promise on protected bogs
Environmental organisations, An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment, have asked the Taoiseach to stand over his promise to defend bogs protected under law.
Peat is now being illegally extracted on 9 of the 53 protected bogs in spite of the Taoiseach's pledge that the law would be upheld.
We are asking the Taoiseach to prove he was, and is, sincere in his pledge to uphold the law.
“Because the law is not being enforced, turf contractors are being emboldened. Starting with unlawful cutting on one or two protected bogs, the situation quickly rose to 9, and without a commitment to uphold the law, the situation could spiral out of control”, the environmental organisations have warned, saying the Government's peatland protection programme risks being shredded unless the Taoiseach acts quickly and firmly.
Fines from Europe are becoming inevitable as breaches of European law are at issue. These fines will be paid for by the country not the illegal turfcutters and unless action is taken, Ireland risks losing the goodwill of member states such as the Netherlands and Germany for an apparent couldn't-care-less attitude on this issue.
The environmental organisations have eyewitness reports of members of An Garda Siochana laughing and joking as they apparently stand by watching the law being broken. While the organisations are not willing to release their sources, they say they have received too many such reports to be in any doubt about their authenticity.
Those breaking the law face no sanctions apparently, note An Taisce and FoIE, saying that it does not seem that names are being recorded with a view to prosecutions. No turf-cutting machines are being seized - in fact, there appear to be no consequences whatsoever - and all this in spite of new legislation which the Government announced was enacted specifically to cope with illegal extraction on what is around 2 per cent of Ireland's peatland.
An Taisce and FoIE also note that a home insulation and energy enhancement programme was to be offered to turfcutters - but there has been a wholesale lack of progress on this issue over the past 6 months, despite promises in the intervening period that lost ground would be recovered.
A decision was made in September 2011 to offer a home insulation / energy package to households, and this programme offers by far the best solution to the turf-cutting impasse when economic, environmental and social considerations are weighed together.
The problem seems to be resources. In spite of the millions upon millions now being talked about for annual compensation payments, there appears to be no resources for home insulation / energy enhancement. There is a hopeless mismatch between what the Government says it wants to do and how it is deploying resources.
For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce Communications, 087 2411995
- The 9 Bogs:
000231 BARROUGHTER GALWAY
000301 LOUGH LURGEEN GALWAY
002356 ARDGRAIGUE GALWAY
000297 LOUGH CORRIB GALWAY/MAYO
002349 CORBO ROSCOMMON
002338 DRUMALOUGH, ROSCOMMON
000600 CLOONCHAMBDERS ROSCOMMON
000440 LOUGH REE ROSCOMMON
002350 CURRAGHLEHANAGH GALWAY
- The Dept of Agriculture is being given the details of the plots cut to further its work on cross-compliance (regarding single farm payments).
See question from Deputy Sandra McLellan and reply from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine