It is scandalous that Bord na Mona and ordinary turf cutters are being hamstrung by An Bord Pleanala’s unwillingness to make a decision, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
As it stands, all of Bord na Mona’s peat harvesting operations have been shut down – but the company has applied for permission to submit an application for substitute consent to continue peat harvesting on a much smaller scale than before.
Commenting on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “It is scandalous that An Bord Pleanala is sitting on its hands and not making a decision on this application from Bord na Mona.
“BNM will require peat for its horticultural operations moving forward. There are also a number of people who actually cut domestic turf to fuel their own homes on BNM bogs who are being left in limbo.
“For many, turf is their only source of fuel for their home. And yet, An Bord Pleanala has been allowed to sit on this without making a decision.
“I am also led to believe that a decision from An Bord Pleanala has been pushed back until May of this year. There is no apparent reasoning behind delaying this decision for a further two months; it should be forthcoming now, especially given the crisis we are in at the moment.
“People who have regularly taken a plot of turf for domestic use on Bord na Mona bog in the past are now being left in limbo, with no certainty around where their supply of fuel for next winter will come from.
“Furthermore, as a result of An Bord Pleanala’s inability to make a decision, in the region of 3,000 workers who are involved in the milling of peat for the mushroom industry and other sectors are now extremely worried about their job security.
“This sector is also at a standstill at the moment and one would have to wonder if this is An Bord Pleanala’s way of shutting down the whole industry in a piecemeal fashion.
“These developments are making a mockery out of the ‘just transition’ and what it stands for.
“I have called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, to intervene and bring this debacle to a satisfactory conclusion.
“The minister needs to bring in legislation which would allow BNM, peat milling operators and turf cutters on BNM bogs to work away under certain thresholds. While efforts were made previously to bring forward similar legislation, it was challenged and significant flaws were discovered.
“However, it is imperative that the minister acts rapidly on this, as there is a relatively short window for domestic turf to be cut in the coming weeks. And given the situation we are in at the moment, it is important to ensure workers can hold onto their jobs where possible,” Fitzmaurice concluded.
Michael Fitzmaurice TD 086-1914565