Cllr Michelle Mulherin, Mayo Fine Gael General Election candidate, has said that it was premature to forbid the cutting of turf for domestic purposes in 2011, pending the establishment of the management structures and the appointment of an independent chairperson.
Cllr Mulherin said that Fine Gael in government will allow a exemption for domestic turf cutting on the 75 National Heritage Area sites, which are designated under Irish law, subject to the introduction of an agreed environmentally rational code of practice.
“In tandem with this we will establish independent mediation between all relevant stakeholders with the specific objective of facilitating a resolution to the 55 SAC designated bogs,” she added. “Furthermore, the independent mediation will be made available to resolve the outstanding issues associated with turf cutting on blanket bogs.
“Like every other EU member state, we are obliged to implement the Habitats Directive. This involves the identification and designation of areas that contain a representative selection of the rare and sensitive habitats within their territory. Arising from recent European Court of Justice Rulings against Ireland, a very conservative and restrictive interpretation of the Habitats Directive is now in force in Ireland. This is a very serious matter affecting almost 20 per cent of the country.”