Offaly TD calls for end to 'financial uncertainty' for peat cutters
Independent TD for Laois/Offaly Carol Nolan has called on An Bord Pleanála to end the financial uncertainty being experienced by traditional peat cutters and Bord na Mona following "the failure of the state planning body to finalise its decision on whether peat extraction above a certain level can proceed."
Deputy Nolan was speaking as significant amounts of anger are being directed at An Bord Pleanála following its decision to extend its timeline for a decision on peat extraction operations over 30ha until May 12:
“You really have to wonder what An Bord Pleanála are playing at given the chronic instability that its foot-dragging on this issue is creating.
"As I understand it from Bord na Mona; last year, the High Court ruled, in the absence of primary legislation, all peat extraction operations over 30ha now require planning permission.
"That decision, and more importantly, the absence of any legislative measures to mitigate the hardships this decision created, has led us to where we are today.
"Minister Bruton must now directly intervene on this matter given the hardship that this legislative gap has brought about.
"He must also impress upon An Bord Pleanála the seriously negative economic and employment consequences that are being created by its stalling on this matter.
"We know that An Bord Pleanála were due to make a planning decision on peat extraction almost two weeks ago on March 18.
"Despite that, they have now inexplicably extended the timeframe for their decision to May 12.
"That is simply far too long to leave both Bord na Mona and traditional peat cutters operating without any clarity.
"Minister Bruton has a clear mandate to ensure that all state bodies work constructively to ensure that elements of the Just Transition Strategy come together in a constructive and positive way.
"What is going on with the peat cutters now is the exact opposite of that.
"Bord na Mona are willing to play their part in terms of managed levels of peat extraction within the wider Just Transition process.
"What we see at present however is An Bord Pleanála making things far more difficult than they need to be.
"We must work together to protect our peat cutters and our peat suppliers.
"That has to be the Minister’s priority and he needs to act on that immediately or there will significant knock-on effects for other elements of the Agri sector,” concluded Deputy Nolan.