The tradition of turf cutting at Hodgestown bog in Kildare will continue for 82 families as the raised bog is due to be de-designated by the governement.
The bog was designated as a Natural Heritage Area (NHA) however it has since been selected for a move towards de-designation.
The only other NHA bog affected in Kildare is Carbury Bog, which will retain it’s NHA status and all turf cutting will be phased out by 2017. There are zero active plots listed on this raised bog however.
Local turfcutters of Special Area Conservation (SAC) designated bogs, who lost their rights to cut turf on the raised bogs of Mouds and Ballynafagh sites, will not be affected by the move. They have vowed however not to surrender and described it as a ‘step in the right direction’ for their long running campaign to restore cutting rights.
“We see it as a step in the right direction,” said PRO of the Kildare Turfcutters John Dore.
“The government are bowing to the pressure of our campaign. It is going to galvenise the efforts to get the designation lifted of the SAC’s aswell. We are cyncial of the authorites at all times and we see this as a political stunt ahead of the local and European elections.”
They objected to the interim compensation deal offered by the National Parks and Wildlife Services last June.
The deal was offered in return for the cessation of turf cutting on local raised bogs, until a relocation or final deal is in place in 2017.
Local raised bogs such as Mouds Bog have been deemed Special Areas of Conservation and plot owners have been ordered to stop cutting their turf there despite generations of families doing so.
The agreement states cutting is an offence and offers compensation to the tune of €1,500 or 15 tonnes of turf per year.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, TD said the move will impact fewer people and reduce pressure on the taxpayer.
“If we can meet our conservation targets in a way that impacts on fewer people, and reduces pressure on the taxpayer, then that is the type of pragmatic approach that I believe we should take,” he said.
“Now we need to put in place the long term vision to ensure the preservation and restoration of our most valuable bog habitats, which make up a small percentage.”