Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme
129. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he has considered making early payments on the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme in 2021 in order to have funds related to home heating provided to those participating in the scheme during the period it is needed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9216/21]
130. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he has considered making increased payments to participants of the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme over the next two years to be offset by bringing the scheme to a close earlier, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9217/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 130 together.
The cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was established in 2011 for turf cutters affected by the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation and was extended in 2014 to include those affected from raised bog natural heritage areas. It is comprised of a payment of €1,500 per annum, index-linked, for 15 years, or relocation, where feasible, to a non-designated bog, together with a once-off payment of €500 on the signing of a legal agreement under the scheme.
Relocating domestic turf cutters to non-designated bogs is a complex process. For certain raised bog designated sites, where a suitable relocation site could not be identified or where the identified relocation site could not accommodate all who had opted to relocate there, the 15 years of annual payments under the scheme (less any annual payments or the value of turf deliveries received) has been made available to qualifying applicants, who had opted for relocation, in the form of a lump sum payment.
To date, 95 turf cutters have availed of this option from 15 special area of conservation bogs and 2 natural heritage area bogs.
My Department will continue to keep this lump sum payment option under review, taking account of the budgetary resources allocated to the scheme.
Annual payments under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme for qualifying applicants are generally made from March in each year in order to facilitate the provision of fuel for the following winter period. For example, annual payments for the year 2020 were issued from March 2020 and continued throughout the year for the winter period 2020-2021.