The right to sell turf to neighbors will remain in place, Fine Gael TDs are reassured

Anyone with the right to turf on their land can still sell it to their friends and neighbors to burn, Fine Gael TDs and senators have been told.

As part of a compromise plan worked out by coalition leaders in recent weeks, there will be no ban on those with rights to cut and sell peat unless it is sold in retail outlets such as gas station forecourts or online.

Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan has now officially dropped a controversial proposal that turf transactions would only be allowed in communities of 500 residents or less after backbenchers in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil sparked an outcry earlier this year.

Details of the compromise disclosed in the Irish Independent This week, the backbenchers of the Fine Gael in the country were introduced at a special meeting yesterday.

The presentation at a meeting chaired by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was made by Secretary of State Peter Burke, whose Longford-Westmeath constituency is a lawnmower hotspot.


Secretary of State Peter Burke’s Longford-Westmeath constituency is a lawn mowing hotspot. Photo: Sasko Lazarov

The meeting was told that the proposal to ban turf sales in communities of 500 or more residents would now be scrapped and that under regulations to be presented in the coming weeks, anyone with turbary and common rights on land could continue to cut, sell and burn turf.

Former Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring said he was happy with the proposals and ready to back the compromise. “I’m very happy with the result, for me it’s a very clear compromise,” said the Mayo MP.

“Once the regulations are published and they are as they have been communicated to us today, I think it is a good compromise, a fair compromise; it means people can sell to their neighbors.”

Former Attorney General Charlie Flanagan, a TD for Laois, said: “While awaiting formal government decisions, I acknowledge progress and am less concerned than when the original plan was announced.”

In a statement, Fine Gael said the meeting had been “very positive” and members of the parliamentary group welcomed the fact that the “rules have been significantly revised”.

“We have to make sure we don’t stop customs that date back centuries when people have no other alternatives. The meeting recognized the impact of poor air quality on people’s health and well-being.

“This solution would protect and extend the current charcoal ban while allowing traditional practices to continue,” she added.


Former Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Ring is happy the rules mean people can sell to their neighbours. Photo: Maxwell’s

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the new turf and smoke charcoal rules were necessary because of the impact they have on air quality.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the leading causes of death in Ireland,” he said.

“The city of Enniscorthy had air quality measures similar to those in New Delhi over coal smoking in the middle of winter. That is the real aim of these regulations.”

Mr Martin also criticized Sinn Féin for failing to refer to the impact of smoked charcoal on air quality when raising the issue in the Dáil.

Meanwhile, the leader of Fianna Fáil told his group last night that the government was finalizing regulations, which will be agreed this week, to ensure measures to improve air quality are put in place.

He said they would not affect traditional turf-related practices and that the traditional turf trade in rural areas would remain unchanged.

He said the main effect of the proposed solid fuel rules will be to end the sale of smoke charcoal, which is the main contributor to air pollution in Ireland and causes significant damage to health and deaths.

Mr Martin said the key change in the bill is the commercial sale of turf, meaning it will no longer be possible to sell turf in retail outlets such as shops, petrol stations or gas stations, or online. The right to sell turf to neighbors will remain in place, Fine Gael TDs are reassured

Fry Electronics Team

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