Lawn mowing ban ‘won’t stop people selling to neighbors’

People who cut peat from their own bogs and sell it to their neighbors will not be penalized by a new government plan to ban the practice. It comes as the ban itself could be delayed by months.

Union sources in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael last night expressed doubts about the environment secretary Eamon Ryanto crack down on the sale of peat from September 1, despite the Green leader’s allies insisting this would happen in the autumn.

The coalition parties were thrown into a “turf war” on Wednesday after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar informed his group that Mr Ryan’s plan to ban the sale and distribution of peat had been suspended.

Mr Ryan then insisted it would go ahead, but his allies yesterday said it would not target those who have a legal right to cut lawns and sell it to their neighbours.

Mr Ryan instead targets commercial operators who cut and sell peat through gas stations and other outlets.

Last night a senior coalition source said they could not see the new rules coming into effect until September, when domestic use of lawns is likely to increase and energy costs have risen sharply in recent weeks.

Speaking at an event at Dublin Castle yesterday, Mr Ryan said: “We’re not going to regulate anyone in their own quagmire and we’ve made that clear from the start.”

He said the proposed ban was designed to attack “the big distribution systems”.

After the Easter break, the coalition leaders are likely to discuss the new regulations on lawn mowing and sales.

Mr Varadkar said he was not in favor of banning people from selling sacks of peat to their neighbours.

“I don’t think we should be doing this illegally,” he told Newstalk. “I think that would be going too far. I think it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut and we need to sit down and work out something practical.”

Green Party heritage minister Malcolm Noonan appeared to confirm that those who have small moors would not be targeted.

He told RTÉ News at One: “People who have a legal right to cut peat and sell it to neighbors and use it among themselves still exist. The problem here is large-scale mining.”

I speak in Galway, Taoiseach Michael Martin said the turf problem is “relatively minor” and that most people “recognize the practicalities” of using turf from their bog. He said coalition leaders would work together to resolve the matter.

“It is not our intention, given the fundamental rights that families and people who own their own moors have, to use peat or even wood for their domestic fires,” Mr Martin said.

“So I think we can find a solution to that and there’s a lot of time for that and there’s three parties in the government, in the coalition and we’re going to work together like we’ve done on a lot of other issues.”

When asked if there should be an exemption for small businesses to continue selling turf to neighbors, Mr Martin said: “Yes, that’s one of the issues that we’re really keen to try and facilitate and solve.”

TD Danny Healy-Rae said the coalition’s proposed ban was a “threat to rural Ireland” and a concern for households who had no choice but to burn peat to heat their homes.

In conversation with the Indo Dailyhe said his constituents should be able to continue buying peat, and peat operators should continue to sell peat and supply peat to households even after a ban. Lawn mowing ban ‘won’t stop people selling to neighbors’

Fry Electronics Team

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