Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Rewetting of Peatland and its Impact on Farmers: Discussion (Resumed)

Ms Adele Shelton:

Under the cessation of the turf cutting scheme, turf cutters can opt for either relocation to a non-designated bog or a financial package of €22,500. The vast majority of turf cutters who qualify for this scheme opt for the financial package but approximately 10% have opted for relocation, where feasible. To date, the Department has relocated 106 turf cutters from 12 designated raised bogs sites to non-designated relocation sites. Work on a number of other potential relocation sites is moving through the process. Some of those may require planning permission. To date, the Department has received planning permission for two relocation sites in County Galway and these sites have been fully developed and are now operational. Similarly, the Department has made two section 5 declarations to the planning authorities in counties Roscommon and Westmeath. In both instances it was deemed by the planning authorities that these sites were exempted development and they, too, are fully operational.

In some cases we have not been able to find a suitable relocation site near where the turf cutters were previously cutting turf, even though we have undertaken exhaustive investigative works across all of the midlands. To date, where suitable relocation sites have not been identified, the Department has offered those turf cutters the opportunity to take a lump sum payment of the balance of their €22,500 with a view to them potentially purchasing an individual plot. In some instances it can be difficult to acquire the land or get planning permission. That is what prevents some of these potential relocation sites from being progressed from the Department’s point of view.