The government may have eyed a ban on lawn mowing, but fears of a winter energy crisis have actually fueled a “rush” on the moors for RDF reserves.
In fact some lawnmowers in North Kerry have said this summer has been their busiest yet, such is the demand.
The scramble for sods comes amid a furious revolt over a European Union conservation directive that bans lawn mowing.
Peat sheds are stacked to the brim and one of Kerry’s leading contractors, who cut bogs, said yesterday it had been its busiest year due to energy fears over the winter.
Former Fine Gael Minister Jimmy Deenihan lost his Dáil seat in the last election where there was a major campaign against him over the Rasendrang issue.
Lawn mower Paudie McNamara said: “There has been a massive upswing in lawn mowing this summer. We have over 400 families on our books. Most would have about half an acre of bog. It costs about €350 to machine fell half an acre.
“With oil prices rising by the day, the amount of sod you harvest from that half acre (and) burn in a kiln would save a family up to €2,500 in heating oil.
“Who knows what that saving will be by the end of the year?
“With oil prices spiraling out of control, people feel safe with peat knowing they’ve stored it in a shed and know exactly what it cost.”
Mr McNamara, 58, said many families who had not used bog parcels, preferring to rely on oil, gas and electricity, led to a “rush” to the bogs this summer as the government suspended the EU ban. “They realized what a valuable resource they have.
“Particularly with oil prices and fears of a fuel crisis, people in rural Ireland know, even if there is only a small area of moorland, that there is safety in a shed full of peat,” he said.
Mr McNamara said his existing clients cut larger amounts of lawn than usual this summer.
He said: “In a normal year a customer would make us cut a certain amount knowing what they would need as they may also use oil, electricity and gas.
‘But now, as things are, they’re cutting off as much as their moorland can bear. I can tell you there are no empty peat sheds in North Kerry at the moment as the last peat is pulled home from the swamps.
“In talking to people it’s estimated that the amount of turf saved has increased by up to 15% this summer and that’s a lot of turf.
“People want turf and that will save a lot of families this winter.”
It is described as a ‘rush’ in the Asdee area.
Mr McNamara, whose company P McNamara Contractors is based in Ballylongford, said lawn mowing has always been a big part of rural life in North Kerry.
“I can tell you one thing,” he said, “whatever happens in terms of oil, gas and electricity, there will be no shortage of peat in North Kerry to burn through the winter.” And no one will be left without the warmth that has been warming us for generations.”
Mr McNamara, who mows for over 400 families, said the lawn was of the highest quality.
“It’s hard and black and the heat it gives is as good as coal. But there is a great sense of security in looking into the lawn shed behind your house and knowing that whatever is happening in the outside world, you won’t have to endure the winter through lack of energy. “
Under the government’s break-in scheme, bog owners can harvest peat for themselves and their relatives, but cannot sell it commercially.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sods-law-stampede-to-the-bogs-for-turf-as-families-fear-winter-fuel-crisis-41945942.html Sod’s Law: ‘Stampede’ to swamps for peat as families fear winter fuel crisis