Independent MEP Marian Harkin spoke out in the European Parliament last week to defend the rights of turf cutters who cut for their own use, and strongly called for ‘co-operation not confrontation’ on this issue.
“While we need to ensure that large scale cutting is properly regulated, we also need to ensure we find reasonable and equitable solutions for those people for whom turf cutting is banned on their bogs. Some of the options available include cutting on another bog where cutting is permitted or compensation either in the form of money or of fuel provision.
On the issue of compensation, the Ireland North & West MEP stressed that the current amounts available were not adequate and in no way reflected the value of the asset. She also stressed very strongly that the issue of turf cutting for one’s own use evokes very strong feelings of anger and resentment and that the whole matter has not been dealt with over many years, despite the considerable time and resources provided by the EU.
Speaking after the discussion in the European Parliament, Harkin urged the Minister for Agriculture to not cap the compensation at a 15 year term, “I believe that we should offer better compensation terms to turf cutters and agree to re-visit those terms in 15 years. If we want to get agreement we need to treat turf cutters fairly,” she said.
“I have requested a meeting with EU Environment Commissioner Potocnik to indicate we are in a negotiating process with turf cutters trying to find fair and reasonable solutions, and asking the Commission to assist us in this matter”, the Independent MEP concluded.