Moate based rural group discusses turf sale controversy with Environment Minister

Irish Rural Link, the Moate-based national organisation representing rural communities, have welcomed the decision by Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to allow households in small villages and one-off houses to continue to allow burn turf and not penalise those selling turf to these households.

Irish Rural Link met with Minister Eamon Ryan, Minister Pippa Hackett and Minister Joe O’Brien, on Monday to discuss further the banning of smoky fuels as well as rising fuel costs and fuel poverty. It also discussed the difficulties for some households to make the necessary changes to stop burning turf and other fuels.

“While we welcome the proposed changes, there are still households in towns that burn turf and who will need to be supported to change their heating systems and access new SEAI grants to make their homes more energy efficient.

“We understand and welcome the rollout of the retrofitting programme of Local Authority Housing and the challenges in getting tradespeople to carry out the works but we would call that every effort is made for this to be expedited.

“However, there are many households who own their own home but do not have the financial resources to make the necessary changes as well as those being supported in the private rented sector who are unable to make the changes.

For those living in older one-off housing, it will be more difficult to make the changes and we recognise there needs to be a change in mind-set in some cases. We have proposed a community engagement programme, similar to that rolled out for the Digital Switchover, Eircode and most recently, the Covid-19 Community Outreach Programme, to reach those that are solely reliant on solid and fossil fuels to heat their homes.

“We need to engage more meaningful with those households that rely on turf and other solid and fossil fuels to heat their home, and in some cases a change in mind-set will be needed. However, we are aware that many households do not have the financial wherewithal to make the changes even with the grants that are available and would propose a low-repayment loan scheme is now needed to help these households”.

“There has been great concern among our members over the past week when the ban was announced. We need to use this time now to put measures in place to support those who need financial help to make the changes to their home heating systems”.

“Irish Rural Link will continue to work with Government to ensure that households on low-income are not left behind,” CEO of Irish Rural Link, speaking about the meeting, Seamus Boland said.

 

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