Turf battles are expected to continue for weeks as the final draft regulation is drafted


Revised turf regulations are “weeks away”, the government has admitted, despite political desperation to settle the controversy as quickly as possible.

Once drafted, the new regulations go to the three chairmen of the governing parties, then to the cabinet and finally to the European Commission.

There will be a new belt-and-braces approach to protecting the rights of turbars and the sale, distribution and gifting of turf in small settings.

In addition to exempting geographic areas, it is expected that peat use in domestic settings will be specifically excluded.

Problems with the definition of vendors and outlets are expected to be resolved so that individuals will never be prosecuted for selling turf up to a certain limit.

But Minister of Energy and Green party Leader Eamon RyanChina’s “urban areas and villages with fewer than 500 people” may have to give way to protect settlements just above that level — and pulling the sting of backbenchers across the country.

“It’s weeks away. The regulations are currently under review for drafting,” a senior source said. “The focus, as always, is on smoky fuels. And it’s up to commercial firms selling in bulk. We know where we want to go, but it will take time.”

Mr Ryan was mocked in the Dáil after failing to spell out his plans for a lawn ban and exemptions in the new rules.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty asked him, “What are you going to do? Do you know what you’re up to?”

He called the peat ban “a stupid idea”.

Mr Doherty cited his party’s motion to stop the ban on the sale and distribution of peat, which had been rejected in the Dáil “despite huffing and puffing from ministers and backbenchers from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil”.

“They dutifully rode behind you and your group to prevent sanity from prevailing,” he said. “They like to go to the local radio. They are happy to pass quotes to the local newspapers. But when it comes down to it, they join the Greens – where you lose touch.”

He asked for clarity after “weeks of chaos, confusion and contradiction”.

But the delay in drafting the regulations with a focus on getting them absolutely right means the controversy could drag on,

Mr Ryan said Dublin’s smoke charcoal ban saved around 350 lives a year.

“We have to do this across the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, a leading expert believes Ireland is still one of the countries best prepared to take action on the climate crisis, despite faltering beliefs expressed during this week’s turf fights.

dr Anthony Leiserowitz, who directs Yale’s climate change communications program, said the dispute shows what climate activists already knew — that “change is tough.”

He was addressing a public lecture in Dublin hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

He has worked with the EPA to develop a series of polls and public communications campaigns to engage people in climate action.

dr Leiserowitz said polls in Ireland had shown that the public was among the best informed in the world about the issues and among the most receptive to action.

“That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of really important work to be done to further engage Irish people,” he said.

“But compared to my country, where a significant proportion of the population still believes that climate change is not real or man-made or, worse, a conspiracy by scientists or the UN, Ireland is stunning.

“It just seems like Ireland is prepared.

“It’s ready to do something really remarkable.” Turf battles are expected to continue for weeks as the final draft regulation is drafted

Fry Electronics Team

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