Turf-cutting ban ‘won’t stop people selling to neighbours’

People who cut and sell turf from their own bogs to their neighbours will not be penalised by a new government plan to ban the practice. It comes as the ban itself could be delayed by months.

Coalition sources in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael last night cast doubt on Environment Minister Eamon Ryan’s plans to crack down on the sale of turf from September 1, although allies of the Green Party leader insisted it would go ahead in the autumn.

The coalition parties were plunged into a “turf war” on Wednesday after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his parliamentary party Mr Ryan’s plan to ban the sale and distribution of turf had been paused.

Mr Ryan subsequently insisted it was going ahead, but his allies said yesterday it would not target those who have a legal right to cut turf and sell it to their neighbours.

Mr Ryan is instead targeting commercial operators who cut turf and sell it through petrol stations and other outlets.

Last night, a senior coalition source said they could not see the new regulations coming into effect by September when household use of turf is likely to increase and amid a sharp increase in energy costs in recent weeks.

At an event in Dublin Castle yesterday, Mr Ryan said: “We’re not going to regulate down to someone in their own bog, and we’ve made that clear from the start.”

The coalition leaders are likely to discuss the new regulations on the cutting and sale of turf after the Easter recess.

Mr Varadkar said he would not be in favour of banning people selling bags of turf to their neighbours.

“I don’t think we should make that illegal,” he told Newstalk. “I think that would be going too far. I think it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut and, you know, we need to sit down and work out something that’s practical.”

Green Party heritage minister Malcolm Noonan appeared to confirm that those who have small bogs would not be targeted.

He told RTÉ’s News at One: “People who have a legal turbary right to cut turf and sell it to neighbours and to use it among themselves, that’s still in place. The issue here is large scale mining.”


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