Turf cutting changes “only first small step” – Naughten

Local TD Denis Naughten has welcomed what he is calling the “climb-down” by the Minister for the Environment on the proposed ban on turf cutting on bogs until the end of the year.

The ban on turf cutting in 32 raised bogs was lifted by Minister for the Environment John Gormley on Friday. The ban on turf cutting in bogs designated as special areas of conservation was due to come into effect the end of 2008 to meet Ireland’s obligations to protect endangered habitats under EU law.

A long campaigner against the ban on turf cutting, Deputy Naughten welcomed the move this week. However, he added that the move was only a “stay of execution”; “What is now needed is real movement from the Government on the implementation of this ban on designated bogs throughout the country,” he said.

Deputy Naughten raised the issue with Minister Gormley a fortnight ago in the Dáil, and said that the Minister is the first to admit that the vast majority of the bogs in question are already in State ownership and the turf cutting ban only relates to less that one-tenth of the country’s bog.

“It is unbelievable that none of his Fianna Fail predecessors were prepared to acknowledge this fact, and I believe that this can form the basis for a resolution to this ongoing dispute,” said Deputy Naughten.

“It is important that Minister Gormley now goes back on the policy of the previous Fianna Fail ministers and questions the basis of the so-called ‘scientific’ evidence to support a complete ban on a small fraction of the designated bogs.”

Some 32 bogs were affected by the ban, which is expected to extend to 139 bogs by 2014.

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