Turf war could escalate as 28 more bogs may see cutting banAugust 2, 2012 - 7:00am
The turf-cutting dispute which has raged across half a dozen bogs across the county all summer could yet escalate to an additional 28 bogs across the county – and 75 nationwide – if National Heritage Area (NHA) designations are implemented by the Government from the start of 2014.
While turf-cutting has been banned at 53 raised bogs which are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) since the start of this year, there are still plans in place for cutting to be phased out at an additional 75 NHAs (28 in Co Galway) from the end of next year.
The previous Government, which lost power in February of last year, had planned to ‘phase out’ turf-cutting on bogs which were designated as SACs from January 1 of this year and NHAs from January 1, 2014.
Derogations at the 53 SACs nationwide, which allowed locals to continue cutting for over a decade, came to an end at the start of this year and led to the bitter dispute which began with the new cutting season in April.
Under the 2011 Programme for Government, both Labour and Fine Gael have given a commitment to review the position in respect of NHAs. The Dept of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht told the Connacht Tribune this week that a review is set to commence shortly and will be completed ahead of the 2014 cutting season.
NHAs are designated under Irish rather than EU law, which means that the legal requirements governing their protection differ from SACs. But, pending the completion of the review, there are 75 NHAs across the country where plans are still in place for cutting to be banned from 2014.
Designated NHA bogs where cutting could yet be banned from the year after next include Moorfield, Ballygar, Bracklagh, Annaghbeg, Castle Ffrench, and Aughrim.
(See this week's Connacht Tribune for the full list of 28 bogs)