Wednesday, 24 November 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Pauline O'Reilly (Green Party)
I want to clarify the Green Party's position on a Bill dealing with peat extraction that was tabled on the Order Paper yesterday. Let us be clear about it. That Bill is not consistent with European law. It will face the exact same challenges that were faced by legislation in 2019. It is giving false hope to growers throughout the country that it will resolve issues; it will not. Ten times the volume of peat is being exported as is being imported. Those are the facts. Those are the CSO's figures. Between the start of this year and September 500,000 tonnes of peat were exported. How can we justify the narrative that has been put out that we need to import peat? Illegal extraction is happening in plain sight throughout the country and the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, and the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, are turning a blind eye to it. They must act to stop the illegal extraction. It is an issue for growers in the horticulture sector. Peat extraction is permitted on a small scale. That is not happening because it is big business to extract it on a large scale and export it. If illegal extraction was tackled, we could have the permitted extraction on a small scale. We could import the small volume required in a transition phase and the growers in the sector could get the peat they require. That is the issue that needs to be faced. The lack of engagement on this issue with the Departments prior to the tabling of that Bill is an issue. The export of that 500,000 tonnes of peat is known. Let us address that. The Green Party will not support a Bill that allows widespread extraction of peat without environmental impact assessments, which is what this Bill would allow.