Impact of High Court case on turf cutting discussed with Bord na Móna – Cowen

Published on: 15 April 2021

Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, this evening attended a meeting whereby Bord na Móna outlined the impact of the 2019 High Court case on peat extraction operations.

Deputy Cowen commented, “The key issue for discussion was the impact of the 2019 High Court ruling which stated that peat extraction on bogs over 30 hectares requires planning permission and the consequences of this ruling for families and contractors across the Midlands.

“It was established and agreed that the vast majority of people are turbary rights holders and fortunately, retain the same property rights as prior to the ruling.

“One of the key proposals tabled is the potential of bestowing a turbary right to newly-established community co-operatives whereby families and individuals dependent on turf as a home-fuel source could continue to engage with a contractor to cut their turf for a period of up to five years as part of a Just Transition.

Deputy Cowen continued, “There is a commitment on everybody’s part to try and find a resolution because the Just Transition programme needs to bring everybody with it – nobody can, or should, be left behind.

“What was taken away from the meeting, on-foot of various suggestions, is that the board and their legal team would look at the prospect that the solution for each bog may well be a co-operative one.

“The High Court decision specifically talked about peat extraction for industrial use, even though just 1pc of Bord na Móna bogs are used for turf cutting, which is not industrial in its nature, it is not in the same realm.

“With that in mind we’ve asked they consider the prospect of a leasing arrangement over a number of years to a community co-operative, made up of the entirety of cutters, which will allow them to find alternatives over a period.

“Bord na Móna have agreed to explore what it believes to be a proposal which has great potential. A further meeting has been set for April 28th, the hope being that they would be in a position to legally recognise and implement the thrust of the proposal made by the cross-party group of TDs.