Turf cutting restrictions to affect only a small minority, says NPWS rep

The newly enforceable restrictions on turf cutting will only affect a very small number of people who have turbary rights on three raised bogs in Mayo, the members of the Environment and Agriculture SPC of Mayo County Council were told this week.

The SPC was given a presentation by Pat Warner from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, where he outlined the facts in relation to the issue which has caused much concern to people in rural Ireland. Mr Warner told the meeting that only three raised bogs in the Mayo area were affected by the first tranche of outlawing turf cutting on raised bogs which have come into effect already, but will not be enforced until the next turf cutting season. The three bogs in question are all located east of Charlestown in Derrynabrock bog, Flughany bog, and Tawnagheg bog, and of the three only Tawnagheg bog is totally in county Mayo with the other two bogs crossing into counties Roscommon and Sligo respectively. He also said that of the second round of bogs to have turf cutting outlawed starting from 2012 only one region in Mayo would be affected, around the Moy river basin, and there will be a very minimal effect to people who have bogs in that region.

Mr Warner told the meeting that the total number of bogs affected was about four per cent of the two million acres of bog around the country, and that there were no restrictions on people cutting turf on blanket bog, which makes up the vast majority of bogs in the country. Mr Warner went on to inform the members that a compensation scheme is being looked at for those affected by the ban on cutting, and while nothing was agreed yet, there was an interim scheme for this year which saw those affected being given €1,000 to purchase turf from another source.

When asked about prosecuting people who do not follow the directive, and who would enforce it, Mr Warner said that it was the wildlife rangers who would be taking point on it, but if there is a prosecution to be made it would be the gardaí, and the gardaí were able to make a prosecution on their own initiative if they wanted to. He stressed that prosecuting people was the last resort for the Department.

He also told the members that flooding the bogs was something that they would be doing. “We own one third of the bogs in the country at the minute and we are looking to get in a position to block the channels and drains, and flood the bogs to get them back to a growing state, but we will only do that when we have the OK to do so from all the affected landowners in the area,” he said.

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