IFA SAC project team chairman Michael Silke said that the decision by the Minister for Environment John Gormley to allow an extension of turf cutting on 33 designated SAC bogs for 2009 was inevitable given the very strong reaction of bog owners to the planned restrictions of turf cutting this year.
Mr Silke said that the confirmation of extension of turf cutting on bogs designated in 1999, with a year extension to the 10-year derogation, is a step in the right direction. However IFA is strongly of the view that turf cutting for domestic purposes must continue to be allowed on designated bogs as no damage is caused to the 34,000 ha of bog involved. Farmers who depend on turf for fuel must not be discriminated against.
The IFA man said the National Park and Wildlife Service has also confirmed at this week’s SAC monitoring committee that turf cutting on SAC blanket bog will continue to be allowed except for the use of the sausage machine.
Continuing Mr Silke called on Minister Gormley to allow his interdepartmental committee, which he has established to assess the situation on SAC bogs, to engage in meaningful discussions on the turf cutting issue. This committee must now take on board the IFA proposal that certain bog areas owned by the State company Coillte need to be deforested and sent to Brussels as alternative habitat sites.