News that 46 bogs are to be de-designated or partially de-designated as NHAs was welcomed this week by Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for OPW and Flood Relief.
‘Today (Wednesday), The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, published legislation which will allow for this reconfiguration of the bog network.
‘This is a sensible measure to ensure that more bogland area is designated but the impact on families that depend on turf for fuel is lessened. 39 bogs are to be de-designated, 7 are to be partially de-designated and a further 25 bogs, which are in public ownership or where there is reduced turf cutting pressure, will be designated as protected habitats.
‘It is particularly good news for turf cutters in county Galway as 18 of the NHAs to be de-designated are in county Galway and a further 3 of those to be partially de-designated are in the county.
‘This Bill is most welcome as a method for the implementation of a reconfiguration of the raised bogs NHA network. It is an important part of the jigsaw in terms of dealing with the problems facing turfcutters, it will continue to protect the environment and will see an overall increase in the amount of land area designated, it will also ensure that Ireland meets EU obligations, yet it will also recognise that designations are having a real and difficult impact on many landowners and turfcutters.
‘I am delighted that another commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government is being implemented. It is expected that the Bill will be widely supported in the Dáil and I would expect that it will be brought into law within six months.
‘In recent months I have been involved in ongoing discussions with the National Parks and Wildlife Service with a view to simplifying the planning process for bog relocations. Steady progress is being made on the issue and I will continue to work towards a resolution.
‘I have also been in ongoing discussions with Minister Humphreys and her department officials in relation to a number of outstanding issues. Today’s publication of the legislation to allow for bog reconfiguration is an important step along the road to resolving what has been a very difficult issue for many householders in county Galway and beyond.’