Naughten seeks turf cutting entitlements for local families

  Local TD Denis Naughten has called on the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley TD, to extend the turf-cutting entitlements of local smallholders living in areas of special conversation throughout Co. Roscommon and the West of Ireland. Under legislation brought in by this government in 2000 a total ban on turf cutting in areas of special conservation will come into effect on 3 rd  February 2009, which means that next summer will be the last one for cutting turf on many bogs throughout the west of Ireland. Deputy Naughten said: ‘While we all appreciate the value of banning industrial turf-cutting in certain areas to protect the delicate environment, turf-cutting for personal use is completely different and has been an important and culturally significant part of the way of life in rural Ireland for generations.’ Denis Naughten explained that ‘a one solution fits all’ approach would not work on bogs in the West of Ireland and that the Minister needs to consider local smallholders who cut turf for personal use in a different context to large commercial companies. ‘It is important to point out that the mechanism used to harvest turf does not damage the vast majority of the area of many bogs and most families have less than a half acre plot which they can use for cutting turf. I’m therefore calling on the Government to provide for an extension of the rights of these local families to cut turf for another 10 years. It may be difficult for a Dublin-based Minister to understand the unique historical and cultural context of the rural way of life, but there are plenty of Government representatives throughout the West of Ireland who know how important it is to allow families to continue to cur turf for their own personal and family use,’ concluded Deputy Naughten.