Supporting Local News

U-turn on turf sales is the ‘reasonable solution’

Revised regulations on the sale of turf represent a ‘reasonable solution’ to a row that erupted following proposals from Government to ‘treat turf sellers like drug dealers’.

A Government Senator said this climbdown would protect traditional turf-cutting practices and allow those who have traditionally cut, shared and sold turf to continue to do so.

Senator Aisling Dolan (FG) said it was an important matter for many communities in County Galway and while there was an environmental impact from the burning of peat, a ‘just transition’ was required before any discussion of ‘banning’ turf.

“I do recognise the effect of poor air quality on people’s health and wellbeing and I welcome the role these regulations will play in helping to improve air quality and public health.

“However, we must make sure there is a just transition for people in the West of Ireland, especially with long wait times for alternatives such as the SEAI Warmer Homes Scheme which will insulate homes,” said Senator Dolan.

“Older people have used turf for generations and perhaps cannot do the work themselves now to get turf home, so this is a way to ensure people can buy turf for the time ahead.”

The Government announced regulations that will allow people with turf cutting rights to sell that turf or to gift it to others.

However, they will no longer be permitted to advertise turf sales and it cannot be sold in retail settings or in any public place.

The Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition was accused of waging war on rural Ireland earlier this year when it was revealed that fines of up to €5,000 would be imposed on anyone found selling a load of turf – a fine on par with those applied in cases of significant drug dealing.

Ballinasloe-based Senator Dolan said that was no longer the case and there was no ban on burning turf.

“I’m glad we could come to this agreement with our Government partners. We’re confident this solution will protect and extend the current smoky coal ban, while allowing for traditional practices to continue,” she said.

Efforts to increase the pace of retrofitting were also being stepped up, she said, and almost 60% – equating to just over €200 – of this year’s retrofitting budget would be dedicated to homes experiencing energy poverty.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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